With one of the most dangerous fire seasons predicted for California, Cal Fire is now calling in the National Guard to help them on the front lines.
On Thursday, Bay Area’s Cal Fire unit was busy training National Guard soldiers to fight fire in the Santa Clara County foothills.
A four-mile hike through the south San Jose hills was just part of the mission for almost 50 California National Guard members.
They are learning to become firefighters under the watchful eye of the Santa Clara’s Cal Fire unit.
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The new training academy started at Camp Roberts in Paso Robles in April and has now moved to Santa Clara County.
“The cool thing about that is both parties are learning together. Everyday I call it little victories,” said Cole Periera, Santa Clara Cal Fire Battalion Chief. “You’re working as a team. So, if there’s a huge gap in my line, something is going wrong that needs to be fixed.”
The National Guard members were attentive and enthusiastic. But at this point, it still hasn’t faced two of the toughest lessons, which are flames and smoke.
Periera told NBC Bay Area that he is confident the guard members will be ready when the academy wraps up next month.
“They still have that ‘para military’ attitude,” he said. “They’ve been trained, and they have that control that we look for and install in our firefighters. So that really jives and works out really well.”
There are a lot of crucial small details to learn especially for those hearing it for the first time and the toughest part is still to come. Which is remembering it all in the midst of a wildfire.