BELL CANYON, Calif. (KABC) -- Living in remote areas during fire season requires precautions. In Bell Canyon, it required an even bigger solution: the creation of a volunteer fire department.
Residents who love living in Bell Canyon aren't sitting idly by hoping fire never comes. They formed the Bell Canyon Volunteer Wildland Fire Department.
The Woolsey Fire in 2018 destroyed more than 1,500 structures and killed three people.
"Most of us on the department stayed during the Woolsey Fire, so we saw the damage happening and there really wasn't anybody in here, just a few trucks and we lost water pressure," said Garrett Clancy, the chief of the volunteer fire department. "We lost 40 homes. We can never let this happen again."
Created in 2020, the department has three trucks and a water tender. They train once month and have answered more than 500 calls to this point, most often for rattlesnake removal.
They're funded through grants and donations.
The department has the support of the community, but they're aren't officially recognized as a fire department by the county.
"These folks really don't know what to do with us in the firefighting profession in Southern California. There just aren't volunteer fire departments," Clancy said. "However, the rest of the country - 67% of the country - have volunteer fire departments. And a huge chunk of the California departments in the middle of the state and the north part of the state also volunteer."
The mission of the department is not to replace professional firefighters, but to give them time to reach remote areas that can be difficult to navigate during an emergency.
They help residents with proper brush clearance and offer training for home equipment, like a pool pump at the home of one resident who lost her home in the Woolsey Fire. Because everyone who lives there knows fire will come and they want to be ready when it does.
"We hope that we don't have a fire, certainly not a Woolsey-type situation," Clancy said. "But we feel confident that we're ready for it."