Fire chief urges continued caution during heat wave

Piedmont Fire Department Chief Bret Black had a couple of messages for Piedmont residents during the current heat wave: Be careful with power tools and don’t over-exert yourself outside.

“Be aware of heat-related emergencies with your health,” Chief Black said. “It can feel deceptively mild outside until you’re outside working for a half hour. You can feel dizzy from heat-related stress. Your normal outside yard work can seem like something you can handle under normal conditions but under these heat conditions can seem overwhelming.

“Be aware what’s going on with your neighbors and your community with neighbors and yard work. If you hear power tools, be that neighbor who goes over. Outside in this dry grass and even vegetation that looks dry can be susceptible of ignition under the low humidity.”

Chief Black said there is an extreme fire danger in the hills right now and a red flag warning has been extended into the morning of October 17. The anniversary of the East Bay Hills fire is this weekend.

“We’re at a heightened awareness and staffing and in communications with Berkeley and Oakland,” he said. “A threat  to one of us is a threat to all of us. We’ve up-staffed. There’s a pre-positioned strike team that’s ready as well.”

Chief Black said the Department has intervened on power tool use a couple of times in recent days. He said it’s best to complete your yard work or use of power tools before 10 a.m. If you are using power tools, keep a garden hose nearby in case a stray spark lands in dry vegetation.

“This is really the witching hour of fire season, October-November,” Chief Black said. “The next 30-60 days is when we need people to have that heightened awareness.”

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