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Fire ‘Crew’ Back on Staff After Funding Cuts

Cut from the budget in recent years, “the crew”, as they are called, with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, is carving up dangerous brush and cutting back, what could be, explosive trees.

In Tucker’s Grove between Santa Barbara and Goleta, the 16 person crew worked on a valuable fuel break today.

“Fire is gonna burn a lot hotter and a lot faster when it goes up a hill. When it hits this fuel break hopefully that will diminish in height and intensity and give you a place to make a stand, before it hits the homes,” said Captain Corey Stowe who oversees the crew team.

One of the newly hired crew members says he and the team are clearing fire dangers now, but if flames have been spotted, they will immediately get a plan together to join other crews. They are trained to be ready for the fire conditions they will be heading into., mainly within the county.

“Wind, temperatures, relative humidity, topography, a map of the area. If we don’t know (the roads), we will ask the locals, maybe the local ranchers,” said DeAngelo Hagerty who is a member of the crew.

It’s grueling work, and there’s a long list to complete in areas that includes Refugio Canyon, Tepusquet east of Santa Maria, and around Cachuma lake

“I was on the crew. My son was on the crew. We are both firefighters now,” said Captain David Sadecki. “It’s a great stepping stone. It’s a great way to learn if you want to be a firefighter, because you really get tested, you really get challenged. It is a great stepping zone.”

Ultimately they all want to be full time front line firefighters. When they are not fighting fires, the crew is preventing fires.

“It’s a great feeling to be a contribution, it’s a driving force behind all of us, to be a service to people,” said Hagerty

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