Fire Dept. gains two positions

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Two area fire stations are now each a position stronger, thanks to the federal government’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. Kern County applied for and received more than $7 million in this grant.

While most of the grant went for staffing in the Bakersfield area, Station 73 (Inyokern) and Station 75 (Randsburg) each gained a firefighter position.

According to Kern County Fire Department Public Information Officer for the KCFD Brett Grassi, these positions were once filled and were among 27 positions countywide that had been cut because of budget cuts over the last few years. The two positions should help bring staffing up to safer levels, he added.

Inyokern now has three four-man crews, with three shifts, each of which has a captain, two engineers and a firefighter. The former three-man crews each lacked the firefighter position, so three people were hired to fill the position.

Because the Inyokern station also has the responsibility of being available to the airport, it needs the extra crewman to run the crash truck. Randsburg is now are back up to a three-man crew — a captain, an engineer, and a firefighter — for three shifts.

“Overall, it’s safer for us and for the community to have more guys on staff,” said Grassi.

“All the stations in Ridgecrest are at full staffing levels already,” added Firefighter Snyder at Station 77.

At the Inyokern Station, Capt. Gary Blake confirmed Grassi’s numbers.

Does the new position expand the station’s capabilities? “Oh, yes,” said Blake. “It’s quicker and more efficient for emergencies. The extra position certainly helps us out. That gives us more manpower to respond to emergencies.

“We roll on fires, medical aids, traffic collision rescues, off-road rescues in the Jawbone and Dove Springs areas, hazards — everything, we pretty much respond to it. We also cover the airport, with one engineer assigned to the crash truck.”

Randsburg, which used to be down to a two-man shift, now is back up to three.

Story First Published: 2013-12-25