[KHTS] – Los Angeles County Fire Department officials are planning tests to prepare for fire season — assuming the conditions are right, officials said Tuesday.
“We haven’t put any live fire on the ground due to fuel conditions,” said Inspector Tony Akins of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “We have to have a burn prescription.”
The Fire Department regularly conducts “controlled” or “prescribed” burns to prepare for fire season at Peter Pitchess Honor Rancho and the Del Valle Fire Training Center inCastaic, but only under certain conditions.
“When we’re going to do a controlled burn, there’s a prescription,” Akins said, “it specifies what the wind conditions can be, what the moisture levels can be — it takes into account the various factors that control fire behavior.”
These factors are looked at beforehand by fire behavior specialists who are trained and certified in their field of work.
Fire officials cut brush paths ahead of time, and then run tests on a small plot in the area where a controlled burn is planned before the drills are conducted.
“We start in small strips, depending on the topography, then we can do “full strips (of land)” or larger pieces until we get the size of the burn we want to conduct,” he said.
The public will be notified ahead of any test burns, Akins said.
“The controlled burns are designed to do a number of things,” he added. “It emphasizes the safety topics that are going on at the time, it’s a refresher for the crews, and it’s an indoctrination for new captains and crews.”
As part of the training exercise, firefighters will be visiting some neighborhoods in Val Verde, where they’ll be determining where fire resources would best be positioned to protect homes should fire impact the area.
This part of the exercise will only involve an assessment and no live fire.
One of the bigger concerns fire officials here during the controlled burns is the smoke and air quality, Akins said, which has a bit of a counterintuitive solution.
When the smoke becomes a concern, firefighters can add fuel to the fire.
“If you light a larger fire it obviously generates more heat, and the greater amount of heat gets the smoke higher into the transport winds,” he said, “but that still has to fall into the prescription.”