Firefighters plan wildfire drills in Portola Valley

Firefighters from all over San Mateo County will converge on the Spring Down open space just south of the Portola Valley Town Center in the second week of April to engage in a series of wildfire control exercises, Battalion Chief Kevin Butler of the Woodside Fire Protection District said.

The exercises, which will not include actual fires, will run from Monday, April 9, through Friday, April 13.

On Thursday, April 19, residents will participate in an evacuation drill of the Brookside Park neighborhood -- the area west of Portola Road between Alpine Road and Willowbrook Drive. Town staff and volunteers will participate in this drill, which will be directed from the town's emergency operation center at Town Center, Mr. Butler said.

In the weeklong Spring Down open space drills, there will be one exercise in the morning and one in the afternoon on all five weekdays, but traffic disruption on Portola Road should be minimal, Mr. Butler said.

Firefighters will lay out several hundred feet of hose, use hand tools, protect a structure from a wildfire, and shelter on the ground from an out-of-control fire, Mr. Butler said.

Firefighters participating include those from the county, Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont, San Mateo, Foster City, Millbrae and San Bruno, Mr. Butler said. The Woodside district is hosting the event because "we're considered the wildland experts," Mr. Butler said.

Firefighters from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District were not invited because they are on a "different training calendar," though they may show up anyway, Mr. Butler said.


Like this comment
Posted by Bolivar
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I'm glad to hear about the fire drills. I'd also love to hear about plans to remove the numerous and hazardous Eucalyptus groves. Every summer I dread my neighbor's 30-40 feet high trees going up in flames, and every winter I dread those same trees falling down on my house during a storm. In 30 years I have yet to see my neighbors prune their Eucalyptus or remove debris from under the trees. (They do prune the trees close to their own house!)

The, Woodside FD has told me that the trees aren't a hazard. Despite the fire department’s reassurances, I'm really relieved the FD is having fire drills; it's only a matter of time until those highly flammable trees contribute to the sort of fire horror we had decades ago at Arastradero/Foothill.

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