California Army’s first firefighting team will soon be deployed to fight wildfires

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — It’s called the country’s first. A California Army firefighting team that will soon help fight wildfires and they will do it inside the state’s fire trucks.

A team of military personnel will soon be ready to deploy to help fight fires across the state.

Images of their new vehicles may make it look like they’re in big pickup trucks, but they’re actually four-wheel-drive fire trucks that haul 300 gallons of water each. They will soon have military personnel in their midst, ready to fight the California wildfires.

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“This program will put five fire engines and 20 firefighters on the front line,” said Brian Marshall, fire chief for the California Office of Emergency Services.

This is called a response team, which you may have heard of. But what is new here is the partnership. You have state fire trucks, but with California State Guard men and women inside those vehicles. It is said to be a first of its kind in the country. The goal here is to help better contain the fires.

“From my perspective, this new deal is important because it just means there are more units that can get to the fires faster, says scientist and researcher Chris Field.

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He is also director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. He has written extensively on firefighting and although he is optimistic, he believes that we need to do better in all areas, firefighting, fire prevention and funding for these methods.

“We are still struggling to achieve the level of investment that will be needed to anticipate the problem, on a schedule that really works for people,” Field says.

Chief Marshall says the five trucks and 20 military personnel will respond to fires together and go into areas where big engines can’t go. But even then, there will be challenges.

“What you’ve seen in northern California over the past few weeks is a series of lightning fires that have happened, and during those flash thunderstorm type events, you end up with high winds, and you end up with a fire that starts with a lightning strike and burns 20,000 acres in just a few hours,” Chief Marshall said.

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But the new state engines with these military crews are something more that we didn’t have in the past. Field thinks we’re on the right track.

“This summer we have had some catastrophic fires, but the total area that has been burned is not as bad as it has been in recent years and I am optimistic that we are starting to see some of the results of the investments made. , “said Champ.

As for when we’ll see that strike team in action, Chief Marshall says the trucks were delivered on Tuesday.

The crews are training now and the goal is to have them ready for fire deployment before the summer is over and that is just over a month away.

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