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Local families await safe return of fire crews battling Woolsey Fire

Posted at 6:39 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 22:43:38-05

It’s business as usual at Fire Station 1 in San Luis Obispo. Firefighters are running calls and training while some of their crew is down south battling the Woolsey Fire.

“We backfill with off-duty personnel to maintain appropriate staffing levels here in the city,” said Battalion Chief Bob Bisson, with San Luis Obispo City Fire Department.

It’s all part of the well-oiled machine that is the mutual aid system of California. SLO City Fire joins several other local agencies that were dispatched to battle massive fires in LA and Ventura Counties.

“We’re accustomed to the idea that in fire season you may go into work on any given morning and that afternoon we’ll be on an engine headed north or south in the state somewhere,” Chief Bisson added.

Families of fire crews also become accustomed to the familiar farewell.

“They’re aware of our abilities and they’re aware of the training that we have but on a human level, they also miss us because we’re gone. In many cases, we’re gone suddenly and it wasn’t planned and that’s probably the most difficult part,” Chief Bisson said.

Sometimes, there is no goodbye in person and my mom will just get a call,” said Alec MacDonald, whose father is a firefighter with San Luis Obispo City Fire Department. He and other families of fire crews know the dangers of the job, which makes a safe return that much sweeter.

“There’s been a few times where you see crashes and it’s kinda scary for a moment. You see names and it’s not him, but it’s still sad that you’re losing firefighters and his brothers,” MacDonald said.

Local agencies are reimbursed by the state for the equipment, personnel, and administrative costs that are associated with sending crews to help out in different counties.