San Bernardino County Fire Department officials have announced the creation of the first County Fire Hand Crew.
In the county's jurisdiction, there are multiple hand crews with state and federal agencies. This is the first hand crew formed by the county fire department, spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said in a phone interview.
"The 18 person Hand Crew is comprised of Paid-Call Firefighters who volunteered for this assignment," Martinez said. "Team members go through rigorous training including wildland fire behavior, advance wildland firefighting tactics, saw and hand tool techniques, helicopter operations, confined space awareness, structure protection techniques and Haz-Mat responder functions. All members are Emergency Medical Technicians or first-responder trained."
County Crew 40 has responded to recent vegetation fires in Yucca Valley and Lucerne Valley and a pallet fire in Fontana, Martinez said. Members have trained the past six months to obtain local certification as a Type 2 Hand Crew, Martinez said.
"Under the leadership of two full-time firefighters, Crew 40 are ready to provide assistance and support on all incidents within San Bernardino County, including vegetation fires, structure fires, floods, search & rescues, and other all-risk incidents," Martinez said. "The Crew is available 24 hours and ready to assist local agencies, including local federal and state agencies."
The Hand Crew Program is another step in providing county residents with "premier services," San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.
The hand crew that responded to the in Yucaipa and Redlands on Wednesday was an inmate crew.
To be a member of the County Fire Hand Crew Team, you must be a San Bernardino County Fire Paid-Call Firefighter.
"The Paid-Call Firefighter Program is an opportunity for those wishing to become a career firefighter to gain on the job experience and learn by firsthand experience what it takes to become a full-time professional firefighter," Martinez said.
"In many areas of our County, communities still cannot afford to provide for full-time firefighter response, but have citizens that still want to help in their respective community and make their hometown a safer place to live – these are our San Bernardino County Fire Department Paid-Call Firefighters," Martinez said.
"The foundational concept for these Paid-Call Firefighter companies is that these are citizen firefighters that are there to help their fellow residents within their community and within our County any time there is a need," Martinez said.
"Trained and responding many times from their own home, these firefighters come together to assist our communities against fire and accidents, and to provide emergency medical aid as needed."
San Bernardino County Fire Department currently has more than 260 Paid-Call Firefighters, Martinez said. For more information about the Paid-Call Firefighter program, visit sbcfire.org/programs/paidcall_firefighter.