Local News

Thursday, Nov 15 2012 06:10 PM

Fire camp officially opens for training, offices

  1. 1 of 5

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kern County Firefighters Casey Payne, left, foreman, and Josh Schulgen plant some vegetation next to the sign their crew made for the new Kern Count Fire Department Air & Wildland Camp 8 in Tehachapi. This was on Wednesday afternoon while their official opening was Thursday. They are using the former site of Monroe School.

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  2. 2 of 5

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kern County Firefighters Casey Payne, left, and Josh Lee, right, demonstrate the fire simulator that sets up wildland fire scenarios that they can use in training in the classrooms at the Kern County Fire Department Air & Wildland Camp 8 in Tehachapi.

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  3. 3 of 5

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The Kern County Fire Department Air & Wildland Camp 8 is in a converted school in Tehachapi.

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  4. 4 of 5

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The new home of the Tehachapi Valley Fire Crew is having its official opening this week. This converted school will be used for housing the fire crews and training. Fire camps will be able to set up here if necessary.

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  5. 5 of 5

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Josh Schulgen, left, and Casey Payne, right, plant vegetation at the entrance to the Kern County Department Air & Wildland Camp 8 in Tehachapi on Eumatilla Street. They have their official opening this week.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A new training facility and offices officially opened Thursday at a fire suppression camp from which the Kern County Fire Department first started operating during the summer.

Called Camp Eight, the former school facility is now occupied by the fire department's Wildland Air and Operations Division, according to a department news release.

In the beginning of 2012, the fire department bought the space for $500,000 using state funds. The 13-acre area on Eumatilla Street used to be Monroe High School, but had been vacant for a year before the fire department bought it.

Crews first started working out of the camp July 1. Three weeks later, those crews were the first responders to the Sand Fire.

Throughout the summer, Tehachapi Valley Fire Crew 81 worked to convert the space to fit the needs of firefighters, according to the news release. They created two training rooms, a main reception and office area, a physical fitness room, a kitchen, a break room and sleeping accommodations for more than 50 people.

The crew also cleared the grounds and planted drought-tolerant plants for landscaping, according to the news release.

The fire department hopes the camp will come in handy for several uses. These include, according to the news release, seasonal engine company, east Kern training center, fleet maintenance satellite facility, helicopter landing pad, large incident command post, staging facility for CAL FIRE strike teams, emergency or alternate fire department headquarters, temporary evacuation center, large animal evacuation center and community meeting center.

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