July 2017
Mt. San Antonio from Rancho Cucamonga: photo by Amanda Walker
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Rancho Cucamonga Firefighters Stand Ready for Wildfire

Fire Season is Here and Our First Responders are Ready to Roll

Drought conditions have faded thanks to winter rains that blanketed our region, yet a significant wildfire threat still looms above us in the foothills. Rancho Cucamonga firefighters stand poised and ready to respond when a wildfire starts, whether here in our community or anywhere in the state.

Rancho Cucamonga Fire District personnel and equipment are part of California's statewide master mutual aid plan, which provides the framework for mobilizing and organizing fire and rescue resources as well as systematically responding to a widespread disaster. Community resources are typically efficient for day-to-day operations, but are not necessarily always sufficient enough to handle a significant emergency such as a major earthquake or wildfire. Mutual aid framework divides the state into six mutual aid regions to effectively manage the resources and response within a defined geographic and organizational area. Rancho Cucamonga is part of Region VI, which also includes San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono counties.

Last year, Rancho Cucamonga Fire District's fleet expanded with the addition of a bright-yellow brush engine owned by the State of California's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). In exchange for local use, Cal OES requires Rancho Cucamonga firefighters staff the unit when requested for a fire anywhere in the state. This Cal OES brush engine responded to nine different incidents throughout the state in 2016, including the Blue Cut Fire in the Cajon Pass and further areas like the Soberanes Fire near Big Sur. The burden of the firefighters' time during such responses is counteracted by a reimbursement from the California Fire Assistance Agreement. This four-wheel drive brush engine is part of a regional strike team of similar units from Murrieta, Corona, Riverside, and Redlands fire departments - only one of two cross-county strike teams in our region. Unlike a strike team of typical fire engines that is often assigned to defend structures threatened by fire, this brush engine and team of trained firefighters work in difficult remote areas to control the fire's perimeter and stop its growth or progress.

Having the right equipment is only one component of an effective response to a wildfire. Training for expected wildfires and varying fire behavior is also crucial. All Rancho Cucamonga firefighters train for wildfires, including joint training exercises with our neighboring agencies, to ensure an efficient and effective response when protecting our community. Wildland firefighting involves many facets, including: clearing brush to create a natural fire break; laying hose lines in a progressive fashion to keep up with and extinguish a fast moving fire; defending structures in the path of the fire; and working together under a unified command so that all agencies can seamlessly communicate with one another to ensure a highly effective response to a wildfire.

While Rancho Cucamonga firefighters are doing their part to train and prepare for wildfire, the community needs to be vigilant as well. If you live close to our foothills, create a defensible space around your home that includes low growing plants with high moisture content. Remove dead branches or trees and clear dry vegetation, such as weeds, from around your property. Roofs and eaves are also vulnerable to flying embers in a wildfire, so be sure to clean your rain gutters and inspect your attic roof vents for proper installation and integrity.

For more information on wildfire preparedness, as well as what to do in an emergency, please visit the Fire District online at https://www.RCFire.org/ReadyRC.