Cathedral City, CA
The Cathedral City Fire Department is always on call responding to emergencies citywide but they’re also part of the state’s OES system or Office of Emergency Services, a mutual aid system that’s activated during emergencies statewide. The system was activated for the Sand fire.
"On July the 25th at 2:00 in the morning we deployed one engine from the Office of Emergency Services which is assigned to Cathedral City with four firefighters and we deployed a command vehicle with two battalion chiefs as part of two strike teams," says Cathedral City Fire Chief Paul Wilson.
The Cathedral City Fire Department is one of 66 OES strike teams trying to protect life and property against that fast moving wildfire burning in the Santa Clarita mountains.
"For the firefighters it presents unique challenges because of the winds and the drought it can push the fire very rapidly," says Wilson.
There are 154 OES rigs statewide. Fire departments get to use them as part of their fleet with the agreement to deploy when disaster strikes anywhere in the state. The Cathedral City Fire Department has the only OES rig assigned to the Coachella Valley.
"The advantage here is it gives us additional apparatus that we can use in the event of a major emergency," says Wilson adding that the state also pays the overtime to back fill the stations.
Wilson says he is proud of the work they do with OES and expects more deployments this year, "We deployed last year to seven wildfires in the state to be able to help throughout California and we expect unfortunately that there may be more as the season progresses."