Local Cal Fire Feeling Burn from Long Days of Work with Little Rest

July 14, 2008 8:25:50 AM PDT
Most firefighters with Cal Fire haven't had more than two days off in the last month. If you ask them, they'll say it's families that are paying the biggest toll. "What the state has simply said is: "Nobody goes home,'" said a captain with Cal Fire.

With members of Cal Fire out on the front lines across the state fighting fires in Butte County and Big Sur back up and reserve firefighters are picking up the slack back home with no one to replace them.

"We got basically half of one shift and half of the other shift working right now. There's just nobody else," said Tom McEwen.

Fire captain Tom McEwen said despite fighting the numerous fires around the state resources are not stretched that thin. McEwen claimed his engine company 87 and others have been able to respond to all local calls.

"Fresno County's pretty good. We've got a lot of engines out of county but we've been able to fill behind them. We've got people that are staffing our reserve engines and we got equipment at every single station," said McEwen.

But when a bulk of the team's away nobody gets to go home. McEwen's only had two and a half days off in the last month and so has firefighter David Garabedian. These guys say they love what they do but the schedule can be grueling on family life.

"Our wives. A lot of the guys have kids?just the other day one of the firefighters his son turned one year old and we had a one year old birthday party here for his son," said Garabedian.

Firefighters we spoke with anticipate their next big break won't be until September when wild fires generally move from the north part of the state to the south.
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