Summer is coming: How to prepare for the fire season

The San Gabriel Fire Department demonstrates indoor and outdoor instructions


Ada Li

A firefighter teaching children how to use a fire extinguisher.

Because of California’s dry climate, wildfires occur frequently in the summer, causing loss of lives, property and more.

According to Cal Fire, in 2022, there were 7,490 wildfires that destroyed 876 structures. To minimize damages, precautions should be taken before the fire season arrives.

In order to enhance public awareness of wildfire prevention, the city of San Gabriel Fire Department held a fire service day event on May 13.

Takahiro Suzuki, a fire engineer paramedic with SGFD, said that it is important to get rid of dead grass, dead shrubs and clear out your garden as much as possible.

“So if any spark does happen to occur or fire to occur, you’re not spreading it to your neighbors or your neighbors aren’t spreading it towards you,” Suzuki said. “Because we do have wind events that happen quite a bit here.”

In addition to trimming weeds, people should also pay attention to the safety of the street.

“Powerlines do go down, they do create a spark and catch things on fire,” Suzuki said.

After solving the outdoor threats, Suzuki said that many people have bad living habits that are also prone to fires.

“A lot of people plug in an extension cord and then plug in another extension cord or they plug in a surge protector, which has a lot of different outlets in there or they put a box with an outlet with a bunch of different receptacles,” he said.

It is hazardous to connect extension cords mindlessly. People should make sure not to overload outlets with multiple adapters and plugs which would effectively prevent fire.

“Overloading the electrical system can easily melt wires and cause fires behind walls that you normally can’t see until it’s too late,” Suzuki added.

Another common fire safety issue is cooking, regardless of the season.

“People leave their food on the stove and walk away or leave their oven on with food in there that can easily catch fire and burn and easily ruin your kitchen,” he said.

He advised people to install smoke alarms in their homes and check them regularly to make sure they work. In addition, check light fixtures frequently to make sure they don’t short out and cause a fire.

A San Gabriel firefighter is communicating with people. (Ada LI)

Despite adequate preparations, the possibility of a fire breaking out is still present. People should call 911 immediately and flee the scene of the fire. If safe, small fires should be attempted to be extinguished to avoid further damage.

Basic methods of fire extinguishing include isolating the burning object from the surrounding combustibles or oxygen and cooling the burning object or spraying fire-extinguishing substances.

People can prepare fire extinguishers at home and learn how to use them. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the four steps to using a fire extinguisher are to pull the pin, aim low, squeeze the lever slowly and evenly and sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Learning CPR can also save lives at critical times, not only when a fire occurs but any disaster is applicable. People should be aware of potential risks and be especially careful during wildfire season.