Camp Cuesta inmates get ready for fire season

By Lt. Monica Ayon, AA/Public Information Officer
California Men’s Colony

The inmates of Camp Cuesta, at the California Men’s Colony, recently embarked on their annual fire preparedness exercise, known as the Bautista Exercise.

Crews from the Ventura Conservation Camp and the California Conservation Corp joined the five Camp Cuesta crews on April 21 for the massive drill.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), along with their Fire Captains, led the training exercises as they prepared their crews for the daunting tasks awaiting them each fire season.

Walking through the training area, the fire crews could be seen conducting their “tooling out” exercise, in which each member of the crew is issued their assigned equipment. The gear is put through a regimented inspection to ensure it is in proper operating condition.

In an adjacent section of the training area, crews deployed their fire shelters. They were being timed by the Captain to show they could perform the lifesaving technique within the required amount of time.

After completing these tasks, each member of the fire crew picked up their 35-pound backpack, strapped it on their backs, grabbed their assigned tools, some of which were full size chain saws, and embarked on a three-and-a-half-mile hike through varied terrain.

After completing their hike, the crews all met at the designated rendezvous location and spent the next two hours cutting a 10-foot by 5-foot fire line; a 10-foot wide path with five feet of nothing but bare dirt.

In addition to all this, Cal Fire provided an air attack which flew over in performance of a mock exercise to add to the training.

The following day, the training continued as the crews performed a grass cut and ended the exercise with a “fire meal” to celebrate the successful completion of this year’s  exercise.