KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Many of our firefighters here in Kern County have been sent out to the deadliest, the largest, and the most destructive fires in California history and this trend may continue in 2021 which is why they have already started preparing for this year.
“The firefighters are cautiously optimistic that we won't have as severe of a year as we did last year, but it would be foolish for us not to prepare for us to be as bad as it was last year.”
Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department says local firefighters started training for 2021, back in 2020, he says the term “fire season” has turned into a yearlong thing.
"We're constantly training. We're constantly reevaluating because there is no off button for it, whether it's January or if it's September,” said Freeborn.
“And we always say this season is gonna be bigger than next. And it seems like every season we say that. And we do but unfortunately, it's something we have to be ready for,” said Mike Walkley with the Bakersfield Fire Department.
Mike Walkley with the Bakersfield Fire Department says that this year they will work with KCFD and other local agencies in their preparation efforts.
“Communication is always key. Communicating what we learned last year bringing it home and now sharing it with the members that are going to be preparing themselves to go out,” said Walkley.
Last year destructive California wildfires burned through roughly 4 million acres of land which is why Governor Newsom announced on Tuesday that the state will spend nearly $80 million in emergency funds to hire more than 1,400 firefighters. Although these new hires will not join Kern County’s team, both Walkley and Freeborn say this is great news for the state because the extra help is much needed.
“So many of the firefighters worked so many long periods of times, long stretches even more than 30 days straight and so going into 2021 we knew we need to bolster the number of firefighters that we had,” said Freeborn.
The state also faces drought conditions and some record-breaking temperatures, which sparks more concerns.
“We have to take drought conditions very seriously because the drier the vegetation is the grass the brush the trees the drier that is the more susceptible that is to burn or burn hotter or faster,” said Freeborn.
Now our local fire departments are also asking the public to do their part as well, so, in order to prepare together they urge the community to think fire safe, plan accordingly, and follow them on social media for any fire updates