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CAL FIRE opens the Hood Mountain Fire Center

Live-in firefighters and equipment make the valley safer
CAL FIRE opens the Hood Mountain Fire Center
CAL FIRE heavy equipment that will be on site at the new Hood Mountain Fire Center off of Pythian Road near Oakmont. Full-time crews will be stationed at the site 24 hours a day to respond to fire emergencies and maintain vegetation for fireprevention.Photo by Paul Goguen

By Paul Goguen

CAL FIRE’s Sonoma-Lake Napa Unit (LNU) and the County of Sonoma recently announced the opening of the Hood Mountain Fire Center. The center houses the first CAL FIRE hand crew based in Sonoma County since the Black Mountain Conservation Camp in Cazadero closed in 1992.

The new fire center is located on the county’s Los Guilicos campus at the base of Hood Mountain, off Pythian Road across Sonoma Highway from Oakmont.

“This new fire center strengthens CAL FIRE’s ability to respond quickly and aggressively to fires that threaten the Sonoma Valley and its residents,” said First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who repre- sents the Sonoma Valley. “I feel safer today knowing that CAL FIRE has additional firefighters and equipment based in the Sonoma Valley, to help defend the eastern flanks of the county during wildfire season.”

CAL FIRE’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Chief Mike Marcucci agrees: “Having the Hood Mountain Crew based in Sonoma County brings many benefits to the unit and the county, for not only wildfire suppression but also the critical pre-fire fuels modification work that is needed to address the wildfire risk we face.”

The Hood Mountain Fire Center is in addition to the LNU’s two California Department of Corrections (CDCR) and Rehabilitation Conservation Camps, Konocti Camp in Lake County and Delta Camp in Solano County. The main difference between the Hood Mountain fire center crew (FFI) and CDCR crews is the FFI crew is composed of nonincarcerated career firefighters.

FFI crews have opened new opportunities for people looking for a career in the fire service. A hand crew’s primary role on wildfires is constructing fire lines with chainsaws and hand tools. Outside of emergency response, vegetation management is the priority. FFI crews are normally made up of two company officers and 14 firefighters. FFI crewmembers work one 72-hour shift per week and stay at the facility. Contact CAL FIRE at (916) 653-5123 for more information.