EXCLUSIVE: Inside look at how CAL FIRE is gearing up for tough fire season

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, May 8, 2021
EXCLUSIVE: Behind the lines with CAL FIRE
ABC7 News went behind the lines with some of CAL FIRE's new recruits to see how they're preparing for a tough fire season in California.

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Fire season has already arrived in the Bay Area and we've already seen several wildland fires this past week alone.

California recently hired about 1,400 additional firefighters, as fears of yet another fire season become reality.

RELATED: California's 2021 wildfire season could be extreme, state officials warn

On Friday some of those new firefighters started their training in the North Bay.

A chorus of chainsaws was ripping into dry brush, inside one of Marin County's steepest canyons in Novato.

Meet CAL FIRE's newest recruits, their first week on the job.

These trainees are learning how to cut fire lines, creating breaks in case a fire happens here.

RELATED: Damage from California's wildfires estimated at $10 billion, experts say

Can this continue year after year without a major change in policies and forest management? Climate change experts at Stanford have been studying the problem.

Christian Delagnes is one of 1,400 new firefighters hired by the state, in preparation for what could be another brutal fire season.

"I took the job because I didn't want to be in an office, I wanted to do important work that matters," said Delagnes.

The recruits have help from veteran firefighters like Marcus Fletcher.

"This is my way of helping out the newer ones, giving them experience, that's why we train," said Fletcher.

RELATED: How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation

"We didn't get those April showers and May flowers, it's already fire season," said CAL FIRE Captain Brandon Grundhoefer.

Grundhoefer says look around. Brush and grass are drying out by the day, creating fire fuels.

"A lot of things burned last year, California is a big state, there's plenty more to burn, it's not looking good," said Grundhoefer.

This training session can end the moment a fire breaks out, then it's off to the fire line.