BLM Firefighters Move To Taft

About a dozen firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management are moving into a fire station on the Westside to get closer to the area they're designated to protect.

The firefighting force started moving in earlier this year, and is bringing all their equipment from the old station on Allen Road in Bakersfield to Center Street in Taft.

"It's going to save us at least a half-hour in response time," BLM field manager Tim Smith said.

"That better response time sometimes makes the difference between a 100,000-acre fire and a 5-acre fire," fire captain John Moreno added.

The Taft fire department incorporated into Kern County fire in May 2007, leaving the former city fire station vacant.

"The city really wanted us here, and has been really gracious to us as we move in," Smith said.

The main priority for BLM in western Kern County is protection and maintenance of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, but the move allows them better access to help the Forest Service with the Los Padres National Forest, and assist Kern County fire on the Westside if needed.

"The wildland urban interface is our bread and butter," Moreno said. "Protecting that is one of our top priorities."

The fire station should be fully operational in time for the peak fire season starting in May.