NEW TIMES: What is the SLO Fire Department doing to help with the Northern California fires?
CALLAHAN: We currently have nine people out of the county helping. We have some on the Indians Fire and the Basin Complex, and we’ve got someone helping out with communications in Redding. We have commitments that we’re fulfilling to the Forest Service to provide overhead personnel. We’ve also got a commitment to the California Office of Emergency Services—we staffed up an engine and they are currently up in Big Sur.
NEW TIMES: Are you worried about the fires spreading this way?
CALLAHAN: I worry every day. That’s my job as fire chief. I was worried about the very unseasonable, dry heat that we had … now, with the moisture in the air … I feel better.
NEW TIMES: What is your best fire prevention advice for SLO County citizens?
CALLAHAN: [Fire] can happen anywhere, and people need to be aware of that and just be really cautious of what they’re doing out there around the fuel. And people need to have their property protected and prepared … cleared from the brush … cut [it] down from their house 100 feet away, so that it makes it less likely that the fire is going to extend from the fuel to the house.
NEW TIMES: What’s your favorite aspect of being Fire Chief?
CALLAHAN: Most of the people who go into fire service, myself included, like to help people. I preach customer service. We pride ourselves in doing things well and doing them safely.