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Local fire departments ramp up staffing for Fourth of July celebrations

Posted at 4:19 PM, Jul 03, 2021

Local fire departments are expecting a busy holiday weekend after many spent more than a year indoors.

At the CAL FIRE Pismo Beach Department, firefighters have been planning for the highly anticipated fireworks show since November.

“We want to make sure we’re going to have a show that’s going to draw people’s attention so that we don’t have to have a show at our homes or in the middle of the street. We’re surrounded by brush in this community and any fire would be absolutely devastating,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief, Paul Lee, said.

Since last week, fire departments put together an incident action plan, which outlines how much additional equipment and staff are needed, as well as their primary mission.

“Starting [Saturday] morning at 8 o’clock, we implemented our incident action plan and over the next three days, that will be used to drive all of our personnel,” Chief Lee said.

In Paso Robles, the Fire and Emergency Services Department has been working on vegetation management prior to the Fourth of July weekend. They also partnered with law enforcement for illegal firework calls.

“Both the Paso Robles Police department and fire personnel are upstaffing and patrolling in the city and issuing citations,” Paso Robles Fire Department Battalion Chief Jay Enns said.

CAL FIRE says these precautions are taken to avoid fast growing fires like the Avila Fire in June 2020. In times like those, San Luis Obispo County fire departments have mutual aid agreements that allow firefighters to respond quickly when another agency is in need.

“We have agreements with the agencies to the north and south of us and when we need even more help than just that, we can reach out to other counties and even other states," Chief Lee said,

On Saturday morning, Paso Robles firefighters contained a fire on the Salinas River with the help of surrounding agencies.

“For instance, this morning on our vegetation fire in the Salinas river, we had engines responding from San Luis County and CAL FIRE,” said Chief Enns.

In providing automatic and mutual aid, fire departments always ensure they’re well equipped.

“When we need to start sharing resources, we never draw ourselves down to a point where we would have baseline services getting fractured,” Chief Lee said.

For residents, fire officials want to remind residents that fireworks, even “safe and sane” ones, are illegal in many parts of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and can easily start a fire.

As an alternative to possessing fireworks, community members can enjoy firework shows on the Fourth of July in Pismo Beach and Cayucos.