By Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Verdugo Fire Academy/Lexipol Consultant
We know all about those snakes at the station that slither around trying to work their way into promotions, departmentt social circles, politics, or even belly up to the chief. Theyíll do anything (even bite you in the back) as long as it benefits them.
But the snake Iím talking about is actually more fearful of you, however just as dangerous and you need to exercise caution around them, Rattlesnakes!
April and May mark the beginning of rattlesnake season in California. If youíve worked in the fire service here for long, youíve probably encountered them at one time or another. Unless youíre one of those odd people who seem to like getting startled by a rattler while cutting fireline in a canyon somewhere, or performing a progressive hose lay, encountering snakes is not a pleasant experience.
But it doesnít have to be a dangerous one.
Many of us will be starting our brush compliance programs and will be inspecting hillside properties, soon to be followed by what will likely be a very active fire season, responding to wildland incidents and on strike teams.
So itís a great time for a refresher with your crew on staying safe around snakes. And why not use the same information to create a quick Public Safety Announcement (PSA) within your community? Several news sources are reporting that rattlesnake sightings are on the increase, likely fueled by a heavy rain season. The rains push snakes out of their hiding places, and increasing green areas attract rattlers looking for food.
Practice these precautions: