Firefighters, lifeguards prepare for incoming storms

Posted at 7:14 AM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 10:14:35-05

SAN DIEGO - San Diego-area firefighters and lifeguards are bracing for heavy rain, flooding and mountain snow as a series of Pacific storms begins to sweep through the region.

In the city of San Diego, lifeguards and firefighters plan to closely monitor areas historically prone to flooding, such as along the San Diego River and in the Tijuana River Valley, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Members of the San Diego Urban Area All-Hazards Incident Management Team will be on hand for emergency support, as will a 25-member Lifeguard Swiftwater Rescue Team, which is equipped to deal with a wide range of inland water rescue situations, according to San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy.

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"All of our on- and off-duty lifeguard and firefighter resources have been placed on heightened alert, including our fire-rescue helicopters and crews which provide 24/7 hoist rescue emergency response. The aircraft are staffed and available to respond to swiftwater rescues within the city and throughout the county at night," Fennessy said.

Fire officials urged San Diegans to avoid flood prone areas, if possible, and stay out of flooded areas and those where water is flowing.

Cal Fire personnel are also gearing up for anticipated weather-related incidents. Staffed around San Diego County will be two swiftwater rescue teams, a helicopter with hoisting capabilities and hand crews for "flood fighting operations," according to Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez.

Fire engines with 4-wheel drive will also be used in mountain areas that traditionally get heavy snow during winter storms, including Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley and Mount Laguna, Sanchez said.