California Professional Firefighters

Vandenberg Firefighters Get Fire Season Furlough Notices

At a time when the Central Coast is under siege from wildland fires, Vandenberg firefighters are getting furlough notices..

Thanks to the federal sequester, all 57 civilian firefighters at Vandenberg will face furloughs of up to 32 hours a month from July through September. According to base officials, the sequester will also force the closure of Vandenberg's well-regarded Hot Shots firefighting team.

The furloughing of defense employees is a bad idea, but furloughing firefighters at the peak of fire season in Santa Barbara County, is a disastrous idea,” says Mike Provencio, president of Vandenberg Professional Firefighters.

The Hot Shot program which has existed for 36 years, - after a fatal fire that killed the base commander, deputy commander, fire chief and a dozer operator – is one of the most popular Hot Shot programs in the region. It is the only Department of Defense Hot Shot team in the country, and it has provided during some of the state’s largest fires and most recently for their trip to Colorado last summer to help combat that state’s wildfires.

At the end of September, the Vandenberg Hot Shots program will cease to exist and there isn’t much hope that the program will come back anytime soon," said Provencio. "It just doesn’t make any sense for this base to be laying off Hot Shots, and furloughing firefighters all at the peak of fire season.

2013 is already shaping up as a particularly bad fire season for the Central Coast. Barely two weeks into fire season, the region has already endured the 25,000 acre Springs Fire and the still-burning 2,000-acre White Fire. Statewide, wildland fires are up 40% over last year to this point, with six times as much acreage charred.

“Without a hot shot crew or helicopter support anywhere in the county, it will take additional time for base firefighters to receive the help they need to combat the wildfires that threaten the base populace and hazardous chemical plants every year.”

READ:  News Release from Vandenberg Firefighters Local F-116

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