San Diego firefighters prepare for upcoming fire season - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego firefighters prepare for upcoming fire season

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Firefighters from across San Diego and Imperial counties are making sure they're prepared for the upcoming wildfire season.

They were in the middle of exercises Thursday to see if crews are ready in the event of another wildfire.

During the three-day event, crews who don’t normally work together served on teams to learn all they can in preparation of an intense fire season.

Just as they would during a real fire, crews from across the region suited up to work.

It’s part of the annual Wildland Fire Preparedness exercise, sending teams with shovels into a dry hillside on the Pala Indian reservation.

“[This] area here has a history of fires - the Witchcreek Fire and the Cumatcha Fire came through this exact area," said Sonny Saghera of Heartland Fire and Rescue.

The training brings 750 firefights together from San Diego and Imperial counties.

"They work together - the communications, the talking on the radio - all that is just getting practice [and] getting ready for the fire season for when it really happens," said Saghera.

During exercises, firefighters were acting fast as if it was an actual blaze breaking out - like last year’s Lilac Fire.

Crews roughed rugged conditions, they heard from the National Weather Service and also coordinated with the Sheriff's department - sending up the choppers to make a water drop.

"In Southern California, we have such a dynamic fire season," said U.S. Forest Service engineer Giles McGervey. "We need everyone to kind of be on the same page when it comes time."

There was also an exercise where a firefighter gets severely injured.

"[They practice] how that whole thing plays out, while maintaining the whole process of still protecting structures and life," said Solana Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Ford.

Everyone participating got their assignment and got tips on things to work on.

This marks the 9th year that SDG&E has partnered with the event, providing funding, line crews and equipment.

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