SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - In the dry grasses near Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County, about 50 Cal Fire firefighters held their first hands-on wildfire training, preparation for what might be coming.
For rookie firefighter Brett Loughlin this is his first hands-on training.
"I learned a lot of things in firing out. Things called 'tying corners,'” he said. I also learned about topography and weather and that factors into driving the fire."
Cal Fire Assistant Chief Jonathan Cox said it's game time in California.
"Going through radio procedures, tools making sure everything is in working order. And mentally preparing," he said.
But even 20-year fire fighting veterans say training is vital.
"You definitely have to knock the dust off and remind ourselves of the conditions out here," said Capt. Jared Koos.
Koos fought the Carr Fire in Redding last year, the biggest of his career. He would spend more than 24 hours on the front lines in without a break.
"You rely heavily on adrenaline to keep awake. And if there's work that has to be done it keeps you awake. You don't realize 20-30 hours have gone by," said Koos.
Cal Fire says it has new strategies and equipment as it faces the summer fire season including vegetation management.
"We new helicopters that fly at night. We have a new air tanker, a C-130 aircraft that is something we haven't had before. So we are attacking this from all angles," said Cox.
Cal Fire says an aircraft is no more than 20 minutes from any acre in California.
The agency says a red flag warning now has an all new meaning.
"What we are seeing now in an understanding and respect for when a red flag warning is issued. It doesn't mean things aren't good for potential fire conditions. It means when a fire starts it will be catastrophic," Cox said.
Cal Fire says it has noticed the public has really started pitching in to do their part in preventing wildfires.
Cal Fire also says it hopes to see it pay off as California heads into the heart of fire season.