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Auburn’s Fire Safety Plan Includes Hiring 7 Temporary Firefighters

AUBURN -- Living in California’s beautiful, golden foothills comes with a risk the residents of Auburn are well aware of.

"Fire danger is certainly something that's very real. So, you got to think about it," said Auburn resident Calvin Armstrong.

The city of 14,000 people is surrounded by dry grass and hillsides. Yet, the Auburn City Fire Department has only one fire station staffed full-time.

"We're well staffed with equipment. We just need people," said Auburn City Fire Chief Dave Spencer.

Spencer went before the city council with a fire safety plan.

"We need an aggressive plan to try to keep the community safe," he said.

It includes the hiring of seven additional firefighters and reopening a station at Auburn Folsom Road and Maidu Drive full-time.

Citizens and council members agreed something needs to be done, especially in this era of increasing wildfire activity and intensity.

"There's a lot of jokes that the fire department sits at the fire station in La-Z-Boys waiting until the next call and that is not the paradigm in the city of Auburn," said Councilman Daniel Berlant.

The council unanimously approved spending $681,000 to hire the seven new firefighters. The money will come from a combination of grants, city reserve money and state funding.

"We want to make sure that we're in a position to respond as quickly as possible, again keep the fires as small as possible and protect our community and their assets," Spencer told FOX40.

The challenge moving forward will be finding the money in future budget years. But the question is, can Auburn afford not to?

"Every year, we're seeing an increase in large, destructive fires and we're trying to position ourselves to try and protect this community as best as possible,” Spencer said.

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