Fighting fire is a dangerous, exhausting process on any given day, whether battling a house or grass (vegetation) fire. Add in Mother Nature, with her high temperatures, extremely low humidity and volatile winds, and fighting fire in forested areas becomes even more difficult. Now, add “dry lightning” into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. Dry lightning, or lightning strikes produced with no rain, is what has fueled the fires throughout the State. Fighting these type fires puts our personnel at even greater risk. Although we can estimate where the lightning is going to strike, you can never be sure.
Firefighters assigned to suppressing the blazes in Northern California have come from all over the state. Although the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal-Fire) has the greatest amount of resources (personnel and equipment) assigned to these incidents, mutual-aid is provided by the California Office of Emergency Services (OES), the California National Guard and local fire departments.
A great majority of personnel responding from local fire departments are volunteers.
As mentioned in a previous article, the question of “how come so much training is required to be a volunteer” was asked. The conditions described above reflect that need. Although our volunteers do-what-they-do on a daily basis to help out the community, fire does not differentiate between a volunteer and career (or paid) firefighter. Fighting wild-land fires requires special skills—special training to survive these unpredictable infernos, so that everyone comes home—safe.
Still interested in volunteering? Applications can be picked up at our Headquarters located at 344 West Las Palmas Ave. in Patterson. Deadline for the upcoming academy is approaching fast. Applications must be turned in by tomorrow, Aug. 15.
Volunteer firefighter Dallas Hernandez has been serving with the West Stanislaus County’s Fire Protection District for over a year. Hernandez assists both Fire Station 1 and 2 here in Patterson.
Currently a carpenter by trade, Hernandez’s ultimate goal is becoming a career firefighter.
“I like to help people and serve the community in any way I can,” said Hernandez. “It’s also nice to be there for somebody when they need you most. I also feel like volunteering makes me a better citizen.”