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National First Responders Day: What makes your KCFD unique, outstanding | News

There are many reasons that I am proud to be a deputy chief with the Kern County Fire Department. It is days like this, National First Responders Day, when I can take a moment to reflect just how unique and outstanding our department is.

Did you know that most of the fire departments in California have a bunch of fire stations within a few miles of each other, each of them staffed with at least four firefighters? That is the first thing that makes Kern County Fire Department unique: The county of Kern is 8,163 square miles and has 47 fire stations, in order to cover all different types of geography and terrain. Firefighters for Kern County Fire are also expected to provide life-saving medical procedures as emergency medical technicians just as other firefighters are expected to do; however, Kern County firefighters may have to continue the life-saving procedures in areas of the county where additional help could be 30 minutes or more away.

The next thing that makes Kern County Fire Department exceptional is our use of specialized equipment, such as two helicopters, two hot shot crews, six dozers and heavy equipment, two urban search and rescue (USAR), one haz-mat and three aircraft firefighting engines. Many of our firefighters have the qualifications for that kind of specialized equipment. The Jaws of Life may be on one rescue or truck in other fire departments; conversely, there are Jaws of Life on every fire engine in our department.

Each firefighter must know how to use the Jaws of Life and they are expected to perform life-saving procedures when the call is requested for the many highways and roads within the county.

Kern County firefighters also train on the most up-to-date techniques for firefighting. There is mandated training daily and proficiency training to maintain operational effectiveness. They are trained to utilize nozzle forward techniques, forcible entry techniques and understand modern fire science as defined by the National Fire Protection Association, UL Laboratories and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Now that fire season has turned into a year-long season, the firefighters for Kern County Fire are widely recognized across the nation on their trained ability to manage grass, brush and timber fires. Kern County Firefighters keep more than 90 percent of wildfires under 10 acres. They are able to utilize fire engines specifically designed for wildland fires, water-dropping helicopters, hand crews and bulldozers that coordinate effective techniques and suppression attacks on the fires.

Our firefighters aren’t the only reason I wear my Kern County Fire Department uniform with pride. There are many divisions and people who make our department run with efficiency and effectiveness. For example, our Emergency Communications Center is an accredited facility and provides 911 service to our communities. Our Fire Prevention Division, including hazard abatement, provides education and enforcement while implementing the policies and programs to reduce community risk factors.

The Kern County Fire Department also has a Fleet Division, Training Division, Logistics Division, and an Investigations Division. Personnel at our headquarters include accounting, human resources, technology, public information and administrative positions. All are vital to the success of this organization.

Throughout the entire department, our core values are leadership, integrity and service. Each person represents these core values, and I couldn’t imagine working for a more dynamic, reputable fire department than the Kern County Fire Department. On this National First Responders Day, I want to thank each and every person who works with us and for us to make our department one of the best.

Butch Agosta is deputy chief of the Kern County Fire Department.

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