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Local, Calif. firefighters prepare for fire season

June 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
On the heels of heavy rainfall early this year, there is plenty of vegetation to fuel a wild land fire in Southern California. We've already had a record number of fires across the state this year.

"In our eastern parts of California we've had a lot of grass," said Cal-Fire Southern Region Chief Dale Hutchinson. "And we've already had significant fire activity in the eastern portions of L.A., Riverside, San Diego County and San Bernardino County."

It is fire season and local, state and federal fire department agencies held a news conference Thursday morning to remind the public to remember three words that have been repeated year after year by fire officials- ready, set, go.

"'Ready' means go out and prepare your homes for the environment that you live in now," said Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper. "What we want people to do is to do some simple maintenance around their homes. Remove some of the debris on their roofs, look at their ornamental landscaping."

"Set" means have your business and personal things in order. So if the call goes out to evacuate in the event of a fire you are set to "go," which means go immediately.

Fire officials say they have studied the 2009 Station Fire which killed two fire fighters and was the largest fire in Los Angeles County. Officials say they have made improvements on how to battle such large fires.

"When we are in joint command, between the local municipalities and the forest services, we will do night flying in the forest so we will be able to bring local assets into the forest to do water drops, or do surveillance or command if it is safe," said L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

Fire officials say with tighter fire fighting budgets statewide they are gearing up to do more with less. Fire departments have depended on jail inmates to help fight fires for years.

Fire officials say they do not plan to let Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shift non-violent prison inmates to county jails to ease overcrowded prison's change that.

"In the past we did work very well with the sheriff's department here locally," said Osby. "And at one point did provide crews to the fire department. So if that transfer does have some impact on the county then we will resurrect that arrangement with the sheriff's department to continue to have the crews here locally."

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