Cal Fire working to safety proof fire camps against COVID-19

YREKA, Calif.– Fire season in California is gearing up. Several fires are currently burning across the northern part of the state – one of them right outside of Yreka.

While crews have managed to get a hold of the Badger Fire, the big question is how to prepare fire camps around the COVID-19 crisis.

When the crisis first emerged, fire agencies began looking at how this might affect the 2020 fire season. Cal Fire says it began working out plans and after answering several calls this season they have a better understanding of what to do and keep their crews safe for this summer.

“Everybody is mask required anytime we’re in camp even in our fire engines to help protect our own personnel so then we can help protect the public,” said Dusty Martin, battalion chief for Cal Fire.

The Badger Fire in Siskiyou County is one of the first COVID crisis tests for Cal Fire. Since the pandemic began the agency says it was developing systems to help crews manage their efficiency while keeping everyone safe.

It’s beginning to implement the first tests of it’s plan.

“Increased hand washing stations around, hand sanitizer around to help with that aspect of it, and really it is to get our personnel spread out to meet that six feet,” said Martin.

Masks, hand sanitizer and physical distancing are all requirements for this year’s fire camps. It’s new for crews but Cal Fire says it’s continuing to make adaptations with each camp.

“Probably our third or fourth large incident now where we’ve set up base camps so we’re learning every time we go and easily refining the process as we go from incident to incident,” said Martin.

Cal Fire says these smaller incidents are helping prepare for any major fires should they happen. It’s been a steady process and one they’ve scaled up from their normal day-to-day work.

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