The 2017 California fire season was a devastating one. Cosumnes Fire Department crews have been busy all year long with incidents both in and out of Sacramento County. Beginning in January with devastating floods in Northern California and culminating with the Southern California Santa Ana wind-driven fires, the men and women of the Cosumnes Fire Department have performed admirably and truly strive to live up to the Department’s mission to “exceed expectations at all times.”
During the morning of December 5 at approximately 3 a.m., California OES began requesting as many strike teams of engines and personnel as possible from Sacramento County to respond to the Thomas Fire in Southern California. Fire Departments across the state prepared engines to leave for the fires. Cosumnes Fire Department was no different. Within a few hours of receiving the request, the Department had sent four engines staffed with 16 personnel to assist in fighting these fires. In addition to these engines and personnel, the Department sent two strike team leaders and one Public Information Officer. Over the course of the next few days, several more fires broke out across Southern California. On December 7, Cosumnes Fire sent another engine staffed with four personnel to assist. Altogether, the Department had committed 23 personnel to the fires.
All of these resources eventually were assigned to the Thomas Fire in the Ventura, Calif. area. As the winds continued to blow and the fires continued to grow, it became apparent that the crews would need to be rotated to allow those who were combating the fires to acquire some much-needed rest. The challenge to this process was that the personnel who would relieve these crews would work over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Cosumnes Fire Department solicited interest from our personnel to voluntarily fill this need. A true credit to the men and women of the Cosumnes Fire Department: more than enough personnel volunteered to be away from their own families during the holiday to assist those in need. On the morning of December 19, these fresh crews boarded a bus and began their journey to the fires. These crews were cancelled prior to arriving at the fires, as favorable weather conditions and fire containment allowed all of Cosumnes Fire’s personnel to be released and return home. All personnel arrived home in time for the holiday.
The Thomas Fire is believed to be the largest fire in California’s history. It has consumed an estimated 281,620 acres, or 440 square miles, and destroyed more than 1,000 structures.
The question has been asked as to whether an incident similar to the fires in Santa Rosa or Southern California can happen here in Sacramento County. The answer is yes. Even with the best prevention efforts, when weather conditions and topography align, there is always the possibility of devastating effects if a fire starts. The key is to have as many early warning systems in place as possible to alert individuals of danger and to adequately staff, train, and equip fire departments for these types of events.
Sacramento County residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts at SacramentoReady.org. Residents are encouraged to provide phone numbers for both work and home, including land and cell phone numbers, along with email addresses and instant messaging information to ensure emergency notices are received quickly.
If a disaster strikes, how prepared would you and your family be? Check out these Emergency Preparedness Tips and judge for yourself.