Firefighters Share Resources to Protect Statewide

Mutual aid agreements mean that no matter what happens this Summer, firefighters from across the Western U.S. will help each other out when a wildfire gets out of hand.

Posted: May. 11, 2018 4:07 AM
Updated: May. 11, 2018 8:15 AM

Butte County, Calif.-- Ten of the largest and most destructive fires in California's history have happenened in the last 11 years - and when a wildfire breaks out in area, firefighters across the state are ready to be called into action.

While Cal Fire Butte Co. is equipped to handle fire prevention, structure and spot wildfires throughout the county, firefighters know exactly what to do when a wildfire grows out of their control.

During the first 24 to 48 hours of the Wall Fire, the La Porte Fire, the Cherokee Fire last year, incident command had to call in help from out of the area.

The mutual aid agreements are in place year round, and every firefighting agency in the state and much of the western U.S. Are locked in.

"Doesn't matter what agency, what color your fire engine is, who is paying the bills - we react to the emergencies around us - so there's never been a question, or anyone saying no, it's a matter of how much help we can give," said Cal Fire Butte County Battalion Chief Jason Morris.

Last year, firefighters from across the North State were called down to Ventura County - many of them missing christmas without a second thought - and Morris says it's just a part of the deal.

Mutual aid make sense of course because when a wildfire reaches a certain size and strength, no one department can handle it all alone, but what happens when there are multiple fires raging across the state, at the same time?

Cal Fire Butte County has a total of 288 firefighters serving out of 22 stations and utilizing 39 engines.

They'll bring on about 30 more firefighters for Summer, but even with another 170 or so volunteers - it's just not enough when a wildfire gets to big, too fast.

While mutual aid agreements mean they usually get help when they ask for it, there's just no guarantee.

"Mother nature likes to throw curve balls at how and we react to it- however we try to better ourselves from each fire season," said Morris. There's not enough engines to go around when there's a fire breaking in every area of the state -we put the request in and they go out immediately, it's just a matter of trying to find the engines to fill the requests."

If a call goes out - it will be answered, eventually.

So, what about when butte county sends nearly all of it's resources down south, for example?

They'll then call back-up from north of the area to come in and literally be on stand-by in case something were to happen here while all the equipment and firefighters are away.

So, mutual aid should never mean any community is left undefended.

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