NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) – Firefighters are dealing with back-to-back red flag warnings issued within days of each other.
Cal Fire is bolstering its manpower while working hard under the recent warnings. While it does so, it is making sure its aircraft are in tip-top shape to fight from the air.
"What we do have is high fire activity going throughout the state of California and a lack of personnel," said Capt. Ezra Johnson of Cal Fire.
The captain gave CBS13 a tour of McClellan Airtanker Base on Monday. Several planes were under routine maintenance before heading out to other air attack bases throughout the state.
"So, what we have gotten done today is we have staffed additional tankers and they're relocating due to this red flag warning," Capt. Johnson said.
The agency has already sent tankers to Redding and Sonoma as the red flag warning stretches into the Sacramento Valley, Delta and portions of the foothills Monday and Tuesday.
Crews recently helped during the weekend's Quail Fire by dropping 23,000 gallons of retardant.
Meanwhile, crews on the ground are receiving new aerial support from the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). It recently debut its FIRIS plane – short for Fire Integrated Real-Time Intelligence System.
As the name implies, it is meant to help give minute-by-minute information relating to the size and location of a fire.
"Its ability to keep firefighters safe, to rapidly identify wildfire spread, to be able to protect lives and property and to deploy resources will be essential in our ability to effectively respond to events that are impacting the state," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of Cal OES.
While fire departments across the state welcome the state-of-art technology, it still needs crews on the frontlines of the fight.
Cal Fire says its Amador-El Dorado unit hopes to be fully staffed by June 13 just in time for daily hotter and drier conditions.
In the meantime, it is trying to protect firefighters from fatigue. Cal Fire has always had a relief program available to firefighters but well-being has been at the forefront of the agency's mind, especially in recent years.
"As a department, we're moving in the direction of having required rest and recovery days which is hopefully implemented this upcoming fire season to allow our firefighters to recuperate and recover so they can get back into the fight," Capt. Johnson said.
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