Burbank Fire Department personnel have just finished their recent services of fighting treacherous Northern California wildfires, as their strike team was demobilized from the Caldor Fire on Sept. 13.
After departing Los Angeles County on Aug. 6, BFD Captain and Arson Investigator Jim Moye was on the fire line for a total of 14 days with strike team 1135A. Each strike team consists of a strike team leader and five engine companies, and this grouping was made up of two Burbank fire engines, one Glendale fire engine, and two Los Angeles County fire engines.
“Resources from around the state were in high demand because of multiple large fires and the extreme fire behavior that threatened communities in Northern California,” Moye said. “Our mixed strike team was put together because of the high demand for fire resources throughout the state.”
These two Burbank fire engines consisted of eight firefighters who were assigned to ST 1135A. Their two-week period of service ended with a crew swap, and this second gathering of crew members were the ones who ended the department’s contributions in South Lake Tahoe on Monday.
While they were originally assigned to the Monument fire near Redding, Moye and his ST 1135A team members were moved to Lake Tahoe due to a Red Flag Warning in that area in late August. As reported in SouthTahoNOW.com, these warnings signal highly dangerous wildfire conditions that can lead to them spreading rapidly. As stated by Moye, “When an agency or jurisdiction is overwhelmed by the size and spread of a large wildland fire, mutual aid resources provide assistance from all around the country,” as the BFD has done in response to the severity of the NorCal wildfires this summer.
The strike team leader was a Glendale Fire Department Battalion Chief who was accompanied by a Los Angeles County trainee. Moye and the crew performed numerous tasks to suppress and prevent the spread of the fire, such as putting in hose lines around the fire with hand crews, deploying progressive hose lays and cutting hand lines to stop the fire’s progress, and holding the fire from crossing roads or dozer breaks and spreading into unburned fuels.
The group also provided structure protection in neighborhoods and extinguished fires caused by embers that traveled in the winds and ignited landscape vegetation or other combustible materials near or around homes and structures. Carrying out this work was no easy feat for strike team 1135A, as their environment presented obstacles and the group’s tasks required arduous teamwork.
“The conditions were hot, dry, and smoky all day, every day,” Moye said of suppressing Northern California fires. “We worked closely with other strike teams, task forces, hand crews, tree fallers, air operations, water tenders, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment assigned to the fire to complete our assignments.”
Throughout their time at the Monument and Caldor fires, members of ST 1135A held strong feelings of accomplishment in lending their aid to Northern California areas requiring additional wildfire assistance. Missions like this one are one of the ways the BFD gives back to other emergency responders who likewise devote their lives to serving those in need.
“For our strike team members, everybody felt a sense of pride by helping the other agencies during their time of need,” Moye said. “Sending our strike teams up North to work on campaign fires, far away from our home jurisdictions, is a way of paying it forward. When we need assistance to fight large campaign fires in our own backyard, fire departments from around the country will send resources to help us protect our communities during [our] time of need.”