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CAL FIRE increases staffing ahead of summer months

Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 01:41:03-04

CAL FIRE SLO is getting ready for warmer and drier conditions.

On Monday, the agency increased its staffing and resources so firefighters are prepared for the peak of wildfire season.

During winter, they usually don’t have this kind of manpower, but CAL FIRE SLO expects to see an increase of fires as the temperature increases.

Many southern California CAL FIRE stations are transitioning out of winter and into summer mode.

For CAL FIRE SLO, it means adding about 30 new firefighters and nine engines.

CAL FIRE SLO Chief Scott Jalbert says the extra resources will be crucial during the upcoming peak fire season.

“In the next couple of weeks we will probably get right into our normal fire season mode where the engines become more active,” said Chief Scott Jalbert of CAL FIRE SLO.

The new gear allows crews to be on the scene of fires for about 72 hours whether urban or wildland.

The Atascadero Fire Department is also prepping for flare-ups, but they are asking the community to help.

“We’ve got the 41 corridor and we have city limits that butt up against the Los Padres National Forest,” said Colette Layton, spokesperson for the Atascadero Fire Department. “We have a huge vulnerable side of our city that we are doing everything we can to be ready but we also want our homeowners that are in those more prone areas to do whatever they can.”

She hopes the department’s May 4th event “Defend Atascadero” will teach neighbors how to protect their homes.

“Is there enough room vertically and horizontally for a fire engine to get up to the house and do we feel safe in the space you have created around your home to be able to stay there and defend it?” said Layton.

Firefighters across San Luis Obispo County say they are preparing for anything and everything.

“Once that grass dries out, I think we are going to be off to the races and we will probably have more fires than we’ve seen in the last couple of years just because of the fuel loading and the abundance of grass,” said Jalbert.

There are two weeks left of open burn days.

CAL FIRE SLO says people should take this time to decrease fuel loads and increase defensible space around homes.