Fire Crew Training and Equipment
CAL FIRE, formerly known as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), fire crew firefighters must take and pass a rigorous physical fitness and fire training program before assignment to a fire crew. The fire crew training course lasts for 64-hours and is strongly task or performance oriented. Components of the training class include orientation to wildland fire, fire behavior, working with hand and power tools, fire line construction, working as teammates on a fire crew and working with engine and dozer companies.
In addition to taking the regular CAL FIRE basic firefighting courses, ICS courses, fire behavior, intermediate and advanced incident management and firing courses, CAL FIRE captains also take a two week course in working with fire crews. The course covers both administrative and operational aspects of fire crews including working with CDC, CYA and CCC firefighters.
CAL FIRE crews travel to fires and projects in crew transport trucks. The trucks have a box type build-up or rear crew compartment. The rear crew compartment seats 17 firefighters for a total of carrying capacity of one captain and 18 crew firefighters. Soon, all crew transports will be equipped with red lights and sirens to better facilitate fire crew response particularly in urban areas.
Fire crews are identified by their camp name and crew number. An example for Bautista Camp is Bautista Crew 2. The crew transport has the abbreviated crew name on the truck. For Bautista Crew 2, the abbreviated vehicle marking is BAT-2.
Fire crews carry the same hand tools for fire fighting as does any other fire crew. Primary fire tools include the chain saw and specific hand tools including the axe, Pulaski Fire Tool (named after the famous USFS Ranger Ed Pulaski who held dozens of firefighters in a cave saving their lives at a fire in the early 1900’s), the McLeod Tool and the shovel. Tools are separated into cutting, grubbing and scraping categories.