Southern California fires impact Bay Area


The Belmont fire station is just one of many local departments to produce volunteers heading to the Ventura fires in Southern California.

Max Lee, Staff Writer

The creek fires in Southern California have had a significant impact on the local fire departments over the past week.

Based on the severity of weather conditions created as a result of the Southern California fires that have destroyed more than 1000 structures, preparation for deployment was started almost immediately. Thirteen firefighters, captains, and chiefs from the immediate departments of Belmont, San Mateo, and Foster City have been deployed to the Thomas Fire in Ventura.

The deployment of local firefighters was a result of an agreement called the Master Mutual Aid Agreement between the state of California. The State Office of Emergency Services created a system in 1970 with the Master Mutual Aid Agreement in which all California fire departments are given requests to respond through the state agency.

“San Mateo has eight firefighters and two engines while Foster City has one engine with four firefighters at the Thomas fire in Ventura, California. We also have one additional Foster City firefighter assisting as a fire line EMT,” said Fire Chief John Healy.

The process of deciding those who are deployed to help put out the Southern California fires is a combination of volunteering and choosing between the fire departments and their firefighters.

“Most of the time, they have some type of warning and can get someone to go in their place if they have a commitment such as a vacation or a wedding planned sometime in advanced. We do what we can to accommodate, but when the alarm is sounded, we respond,” said Belmont Fire Department Battalion Chief Kent Thrasher.

The swiftness of the responses by local fire departments has forced many firefighters to adjust quickly in order to aid firefighters working in Ventura.

“The fire started around 6:30 pm and around 8:30 pm. I received a phone call from my battalion chief asking me if I would be available to respond if requested. The battalion chief called me later on the fire station phone and it was now time to pack my bags for the drive to Ventura,” said Captain Greg Campbell.

The volunteering firefighters have received generally positive and supportive feedbacks from their loved ones in reply to firefighters heading to the Ventura fires, ultimately helping them in their decision to assist in putting out the Southern California fires.

“My family is completely committed. They did some research on the fires and sent it to me, telling me to be safe and that they loved me and hoped I would be home for Christmas,” said Campbell.