More than 150 firefighters are taking part in one of the biggest training exercises to date in preparation for a busy wildfire season that will — for the first time — be without much of the help of employees of Alexander & Baldwin.
“We’re thankful that we’re still in partnership with them, but we’re concerned,” Assistant Fire Chief David Thyne said Wednesday at the training site in north Kihei. “We want to make sure we stay on top of it because we could potentially be dealing with incidents of a magnitude that we haven’t dealt with before.”
The shutdown of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. in December drastically decreased the amount of heavy equipment and personnel that respond to cane field fires, putting the burden on the Maui Fire Department to control wildfires across A&B’s 36,000 acres in Central Maui. The company has a minimal amount of heavy-equipment operators, primarily with subsidiary East Maui Irrigation, Thyne said.