HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif.(KIEM)- As that fire in Napa continues burning this evening comes questions about California’s preparedness as we enter a fire season some predict could be the worst on record.
New data shows that 40-percent of California is at least at ‘moderate’ risk of burning, and it comes amid word that Cal Fire is starting the season with a significant shortage of firefighters.
For those on the job, officials say there are mental health challenges.
“Over the last four years. Firefighters have made more than 54,000 calls to state mental health hotlines. The women and men at the heart of Cal Fire would never say this out loud. But they’re at their breaking point, and this is not sustainable,” said State Senator Mike McGuire.
Experts believe that this wildfire season can be one of the most hellacious brought on by the drought. Legislative leaders, along with Cal Fire firefighters, are pushing to help protect the health and safety of firefighters.
“This severe shortage puts health and safety and firefighters at risk due to staff shortages. Cal Fire firefighters are working long overtime, 40 to 60 days in a row,” said Mike McGuire.
McGuire’s legislation of SB 1062 would immediately hire 1,124 Cal Fire firefighters and advance a modern-day staffing plan for Cal Fire.
Co-author of SB 1063 Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry shared her gratitude for firefighters’ quick response as they assisted with two recent fires in her district that prompted evacuation orders.
“We must redouble our efforts as trying to reduce risk and increase warnings. That’s why Senator McGuire’s legislation is so important, and that is why I am very, very proud to be a co-author of SB 1062,” said Cecilia Aguilar-Curry, Assembly Member District 4.
Today, U.S Senator Alex Padilla also held a briefing to discuss with state officials and agencies the federal legislative efforts and the wholistic attempt being made to prepare for the upcoming fire season. This comes after Padilla introduced two bills to support efforts across California and the country to help put fires out quicker and protect communities better from post-fire flooding.