Auburn, Newcastle teams train together for wildland fires

Firefighters use jurisdictional border location for rehearsal drills
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn and Newcastle firefighters trained Thursday to ensure they’re on the same page when mutual aid calls come in for wildland fires.

About a dozen firefighters from Auburn Fire and the Newcastle Fire Protection District assembled on land along Indian Hill Road at the jurisdictional border of the two - a location that was both practical and strategic.

Capt. Bryan Gouge of Auburn Fire said training at the city limits allowed crews on both sides to keep engines in service while the two-hour session took place.

With sometimes-different equipment and the knowledge that delays in setting up for a fire could cost lives, Auburn and Newcastle fire crews were instructed on the intricacies of each other’s rigs.

“We’re trying to get everybody on the right page for wildland season, which is getting an early start,” Gouge said. “You can talk about it all day but you need to get hose on the ground.”

Despite this week’s cooler weather, drier-than-normal conditions are spurring fire agencies to both train fire crews early and warn the public about the coming fire season.

Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit has already moved into peak fire season status, several weeks earlier than normal.

Peak fire season indicates a state of preparedness that includes rehiring and training the state fire agency’s seasonal firefighting force, opening fire response facilities around the clock, and making operational decisions in response to local conditions.

Cal Fire officials are also continuing to stress the importance of homeowners in preparing for wildfire season, including removing vegetation surrounding homes and clearing a 30-foot protective area devoid of flammable vegetation around structures.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for all residents to take action,” Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Chief Brad Harris said. “It is not too late to create defensible space - timing is everything.”

As brush is cleared, Harris added that all yard maintenance requiring gas or electrical motors should be done before 10 a.m., not in the heat of the day or when the wind is blowing.