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North Coast fire crews participate in Cal Fire preparedness exercises

CAL FIRE Preparedness Exercises in Southern Humboldt.
CAL FIRE Preparedness Exercises in Southern Humboldt.
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Over 200 fire personnel from 18 North Coast crews gathered in Southern Humboldt as part of the Redwood Coast Fire Preparedness Exercises.

"This one's specifically designed for our hand crews. So the crews will go out and they'll grade their project work. So they're gonna get timed in a hike, there'll be timed line cut, and they'll be required to complete their tool out in their line cut in a specified amount of time," Cal Fire Engineer Matt Berry said.

The event is hosted by the Cal Fire Humboldt-Del Norte unit and is in conjunction with other agencies including the California Conservation Corps, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Military Department. Cal Fire officials say they've seen a shift in the types of crews battling blazes in the state.

"The number of inmate crews in the State of California has dwindled the last couple of years. So these firefighter hand crews have been brought on board to help supplement that. So they've been a great resource for us," Berry said. "We'll use crews from the National Guard and the California Conservation Corps to help supplement that during fire season."

This year, Cal Fire notes there has been more moisture and more snowpack which could mean fire season starts later this year. Despite that, they're still striving for the same level of preparedness and utilizing this time to meet that.

"Our primary goal is to make sure that everybody's out there operating safely, to get the job done," Berry said.

The preparedness exercises take place over the course of three days and these crews must certain criteria in each exercise in order to pass.

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