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TFD waiting in wings to help with California wildfires

Posted: 7:50 PM, Nov 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-15 02:34:30Z

As many as 70,000 homes could still be in jeopardy in the California wildfires.

In Tulsa, specialized firefighters are ready to go if their help is needed.

The Tulsa Fire Department says the last time it was deployed out of state was in April, to assist in Arizona. But with winds reaching 60 mph in California, there's an extra risk for firefighters answering the call.
“It really pulls on your heart strings because we know that they're out there every day trying to do their best…to make sure that everybody is safe and save people's property, so it does affect us each and every day,” TFD spokesperson Victor Grimes said. 

Fighting a wildfire, like the Camp Fire raging in California, is dangerous.

For firefighters in Tulsa, it's a different kind of danger than what they face every day.

But the nine Tulsa firefighters on standby have specialized training for those situations. 

“G-130 training is four days of intense training, and they have to do an annual recertification and refresher,” Grimes said. “They continue to train and make sure if that day comes, they're ready to go.”

It's not often Tulsa firefighters are sent to assist on a fire outside the state,  but it does happen. When it does, off-duty firefighters have to come in to replace those who go, making sure there are enough hands on deck at home in case something happens.

“We have minimum staffing, so each day we have to have a certain amount of people on duty,” Grimes said. “So we'll fill to that and pay overtime if need be to fill those positions.”

The overtime for those firefighters actually is built into the budget, so there's never any hesitation if fire departments nearby need some extra help. 

And to put the California fires into perspective – if the inferno were over Tulsa, it would stretch past Tulsa International Airport, north nearly to Owasso, south to Jenks and Sapulpa and west past Sand Springs.

 

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