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Escalon Fire Officials Urging Early Preparation For Season

Now is the time to start tackling weed abatement and making your property fire safe.

That, according to Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Rick Mello, who said that this week’s hot temperatures will likely signal an early start to the fire season.

With the coronavirus still topping the news, Mello said the fire department’s annual Fill The Boot drive, which would have been later this month, has been cancelled for now, along with the annual Fire Department Appreciation Dinner, also traditionally hosted in May. They may be rescheduled at a later date, said Mello, but as of now have been cancelled.

“But fire season is going to come whether we want it to or not,” the chief added. “With temperatures forecast up near 90 this week, that will just speed up the drying out process.”

Fire season is inevitable and Mello said with people having more time at home right now because of the pandemic, it’s a good idea for residents to put that time to good use, helping make their home and property as fire safe as possible.

“Clean up around your home, do the weed abatement, clean up the edges of the property, but do it in the morning when the temperatures are down and be cautious,” Mello said.

As far as the department, he said firefighters are able to meet for small group training sessions only, not the typical once a week session involving multiple crews.

“We’re just able to train in the small groups and we are also doing some training online, those are still being done,” said the chief.

He noted that it’s hard to tell when all the current restrictions will be lifted, though there are some loosening up, a little more each day.

“It’s a matter of waiting to see,” Mello said of when the department can resume its ‘normal’ training operations.

Right now, they are also beginning to look for properties that need weed abatement and are seeing a downward trend in their calls for service.

“We’re probably down 20 to 30 percent right now” in terms of calls, Mello said, with fewer people out and about.

He also said with parks closed, there have been fewer people on the local rivers, which typically account for several spring calls for water rescues.

“There is less impact on the system,” Mello agreed. “But the COVID peak for San Joaquin County is projected to be May 10.”

The chief said the county hopefully will see a lessening of cases over the next couple of weeks, with a hoped for return to more ‘normal’ activities soon. He also said the department does have plenty of personal protective equipment, PPE gear, with face shields and M95 masks received a few weeks ago.