With a wet winter and now a period of warm, dry weather in the forecast, conditions will be ripe for a long – and possibly busy – fire season for local departments.
Escalon City officials said they have already started the process of looking in to weed abatement, with residents being advised to cut back grass and clean out alleyways to help create a safe zone around homes.
Meanwhile, Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said the department has several locations they check annually in the weed abatement process and firefighters will be on high alert over the next few months.
Though the department hasn’t officially gone into ‘fire season’ mode yet, they are making plans, said Mello.
“The process will get underway soon, now that we have a good handle on the rain slowing down,” he explained. “There is just a lot of tall, green vegetation out there now, so the potential (for a busy fire season) is there.”
Last year, though they were bracing for the worst, Mello said it wasn’t a bad fire season, even given the drought. Now, though, with heavy rain leading to equally heavy vegetation that will eventually dry out as the temperatures increase, this year could prove to be a long, busy one.
The fire department has seasonal staffing where they bring additional personnel on for the summer, starting anywhere from mid-May to Memorial Day, providing a guaranteed third person on each shift. The department’s reserves and volunteers help make up that staffing level most of the year, with the added seasonal staff brought on in addition during the fire season.
Mello said it appears the fire season will have a later start this year, as it will take some time for all the vegetation to dry out. He said the department hasn’t seen any indication that CalFire is beefing up its crews for the summer yet, a traditional sign that fire season is officially underway.
“It just really depends on what the weather is going to do,” said Mello.