OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Hotter, drier weather is forcing the Oakland Fire Department to move into an enhanced wildfire response mode.
It made the move in conjunction with Cal Fire and other departments across Alameda County.
Starting Monday, the department is geared up and ready to take on what’s expected to be another difficult season.
For fire crews this wildfire preparation seems to be happening earlier and earlier.
With not much rain and potentially record-setting temperatures, there’s an increased risk of fire danger and to keep them from burning out of control — Crews are asking for the public’s help as well.
Firefighters in Oakland are preparing for a fire season this year that might be just as bad as last year’s.
This early transition comes as vegetation dries up because of no rain.
“We’re starting a little earlier because as we know the showers never manifested that we would hope for. We’re back in the severe drought conditions. The moisture within the fuels is at record lows,” Nick Luby said.
Deputy Chief Nick Luby says along with their wildfire gear, crews have been equipped with a special apparatus to help respond to vegetation fires.
Within this more compact vehicle are hand tools, fittings and a hose. These will be sent out when a wildfire breaks out.
“We are being super, extra cognizant that fire is going to move quicker, faster and more volatile especially with the weather conditions we’re seeing this early in fire season,” Luby said.
The city’s danger area or fire hazard severity zone has been mapped out here.
Practically, all of the Oakland Hills are included and fall within the “very high fire hazard” category.
Oakland Fire says they’ll continue to mitigate any issues with fuels such as clearing dry brush but the community’s help is also needed. Firefighters warn people not to wait.
“It’s challenging to control the ignition. It’s challenging to control the weather. We can’t control the topography, the one thing we can control is the fuels,” Luby said.
The fire department will be doing inspections within the very high fire danger areas beginning next month.
These will help them identify any potential problem spots.
The fire department says the city has not lost a structure to a vegetation fire in over five years and they’ll be working hard to keep it that way.