Kern County Fire Dept.: Shafter smoke, explosions just a drill

Training exercise will start at 1 p.m.

SHAFTER, Calif. - If you saw smoke and heard explosions near Shafter this afternoon, don't be alarmed, it  was just a drill.

The Kern County Fire Department held a special training exercise at Minter Field, Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters learned about special effects and techniques used in movie production and the class included live explosion demonstrations.

“We participate in this exercise to make sure our guys, have a grasp on how to safely do film and television production in Kern County,” said Leland Davis of the Kern County Fire Department.

The fire department monitors safety protocols on set while film crews use explosives for special effects.

“We may use a little pyrotechnic devise, but it can still hurt somebody, put an eye out or worse. So we make sure we take all the proper precautions and do all the safety controls. The fire department is on-hand during filming in the event of an emergency,” said Jeffrey Marsh, special effects technician.

For the past one hundred years, the entertainment industry has been using Kern County as a backdrop for film production. The Kern County Film Commission said there have been hundreds of movies filmed in the county, dating back to 1913.

“Filming is a great little economic booster for our county. Last year we had 220 productions filmed here.  We average about 20 a month, but last month we had 44 productions,” said Joanie Haenelt, film liaison.

Production companies boost the local economy to the tune of $19 million per year.

“The job of film and television is to make things look dangerous and spectacular. However, we have to put safety first while they make things look dangerous and spectacular,” said Davis.

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