San Jose's 678 firefighters are always in training and they're especially concerned by the tall, dry grass all over the city. So are residents. "We're always concerned about it because we live fairly close to where the grass is," said resident Larry Lohman who owns a home in the Evergreen District.
Fire season is already under way, over a month earlier than normal. The 4th of July is the next threat. Even though fireworks sales are illegal in San Jose, residents know they're readily available nearby in Newark, Union City, Gilroy, Hollister, and Watsonville. "They bring them in from other cities and yes, it's definitely a concern," Kathy Lohman told ABC7 News.
They end up being set off in high-risk areas in San Jose. "Sometimes, I see kids go up to the parks where there are dry areas, and they start lighting their fireworks and you know, when it's so dry like that, everything's going to catch on fire and just burn," said San Jose resident Victoria Nguyen.
Firefighters say grass fires can be intense, putting property and lives in danger. "These things go, and people really don't get a perspective of how hot, how fast, and how dangerous this stuff is," said San Jose Fire Department Capt. Cleo Doss.
The San Jose Fire Department invited some special guests to train on Wednesday, two members of the city council -- Kansen Chu and Donald Rocha. They were exposed to smoke, live fire, and rescue operations that opened their eyes to the hazards firefighters face.
"Well, the heat and lack of sight and the lack of ability to communicate was probably the most I was surprised about. So, it's a tough gig they're doing," Rocha said.
Between 14 and 17 rigs can be tied up fighting a major grass fire and that can lead to slower response times in other parts of the city during other fires or medical emergencies.