CAL Fire holds week-long bulldozer training at Burrows Ranch

Apr 30, 2014 8:30 PM

While CAL Fire hasn't declared an official start to the fire season, crews are already undergoing intense training to prepare for it.

That also includes bulldozer operators.

After sitting idle for much of the cold winter months, these CAL Fire bulldozers are ready for action.

With fire season rapidly approaching, heavy fire equipment operators like Richard Hall are brushing up on their firefighting skills.

“We're opening up the ground so...getting rid of all the vegetation and making that way the fire bumps against that road...and we can fire off that road and we can help put the fire out. Those dozers are pretty vital for what we do.”

This is the 4th year CAL Fire has put on this kind of bulldozer training -- the death of a CAL Fire equipment operator 7 years ago, after his dozer rolled over in the San Benito-Monterey area -- reinforces how important it is for fire crews to stay on top of their game.

“The dozers a lot of times are getting in areas up on the steep hillsides where we couldn't put an engine...and they're cutting those fire lines and so they've gotta be really skilled in being able to operate on those steep surfaces and still be able to do what they need to do.”

There are about 6 different dozer models on Burrow's Ranch for today's training; it's an opportunity for operators to get more familiar with the controls for the real deal.

“It's a dangerous job…so we like to put it down as far as let these guys get in the seat of the tractors without having the fire behind them...and allowing them to get their skill level where it belongs.”

This week’s dozer training isn't just a refresher course for the operators -- it's also a way to clear out fire fuel.

“What this does is it brings back the deer habitat...the grass for the cattle to feed...and it really benefits the land...we've seen a lot of changes…”

Climbing up and down steep and rugged terrain is already a big challenge -- and these operators will get to do it again at night, until 2 in the morning.

The owner of Burrow’s Ranch came up with the idea to have CAL Fire train on his property -- it's part of a land conservation project called "crimping".


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