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AFD begins wildfire preparation plan

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TWC News: AFD begins wildfire preparation plan
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An early morning cold front Tuesday swept in fierce winds, and paired with dry air in the area, it's the perfect conditions for a wildfire.

Fire officials briefed the city’s Public Safety Commission Monday about what the Austin Fire Department is doing to prepare for the next brush fire.

Massive fires wept through Central Texas in 2011, including the mega-destructive Bastrop wildfires over Labor Day weekend.

That treacherous fire season emphasized AFD's need for better wildfire infrastructure, but the Austin City Council could not provide it all at once, so the department is updating it in phases.

Currently AFD is in phase one, which involves beefing up personnel, hiring an assistant director and supporting staff for wildfire preparedness.

A big part of phase one also includes community outreach, like working with land owners to clear brush.

"People need to know that living in Central Texas means that you live in a fire environment,” Austin Fire Department Assistant Director Jim Linardos said. “What that means is to be responsible, and a lot of this is going to be outreach and we need to do that to all the different parts of our community."

Phase two should start in about one month, which will include two hiring new captains.

AFD is also increasing staffing for brush fires, trying to have a minimum of four firefighters on every call.

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