Local firefighters gather for wildfire training in the Santa Maria Valley

With the summer heat approaching, Central Coast fire departments gathered Tuesday for an annual training session in preparation for the wildfire season.

Exercise Wildland Urban Interface is an annual exercise that allows the Central Coast’s many fire departments to work with each other and develop local fire response plans.

“We are a united family,” said Christina Favuzzi, public information officer for the Montecito Fire Department. “For all of us, coming together and rebuilding relationships makes us all the more effective during real incidents.”

One such training exercise is to familiarize firefighters with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Air Support Unit.

“When that call comes in at 10:00 p.m. or 2:00 a.m. and we meet with firefighters in the field at a remote site, we can develop a plan ahead of time and have our policies and procedures developed in training rather than ‘do it on the actual incident,’ said Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Glen Dupont.

The Santa Maria Fire Department took the initiative to coordinate this year’s training exercise with firefighters from Montecito, Carpinteria-Summerland, Five Cities Fire and a response team from CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo.

Favuzzi says ordinary civilians can also do their part in preparing for wildfire season.

“Each fire department has their own ‘Ready Set Go’ guides that are tailored to your communities and we encourage you to seek it out wherever you live on the Central or South Coast,” she told KSBY.

Fire officials say June, July and August are the peak times for wildfires on the Central Coast, but they have already seen an increase in wildfires in neighboring western states.

You can find the details on your community’s “Ready Set Go” guide on your local fire department’s website.


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Richard V. Johnson