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Urgent Request for May 9 Press Conference in Sacramento to Advocate for Increased Mutual Aid Funding for Local Fire Agencies

On May 9, we have a great opportunity to promote our efforts through Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (D-RiSC) to secure increased funding to modernize California’s Mutual Aid System and fund pre-positioning before wildfires and other significant disasters hit.

In partnership with Senator Mike McGuire and other lawmakers, coalition members will hold a press conference on May 9 in the morning at the State Capitol grounds. We need to turn out as many supporters as possible for this event. This is a critical time in the State Budget process for us to generate news media coverage and build support among state lawmakers for funding to protect our communities from the increasing threats from natural disasters. 

When: Wednesday, May 9, at 10:00 a.m.
Where: South steps of the State Capitol
Who: State lawmakers, fire chiefs, firefighters, and local elected officials

If you can attend please email FDAC Executive Director Catherine Smith at casmith@fdac.org so we can pass on your name to the Coalition.


FDAC Joins Coalition Asking for Increased Fire Service Funding

FDAC has joined forces with CalChiefs, League of California Cities, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs of California,  California Professional Firefighters Association, FIRESCOPE and others in supporting the recently formed Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (D-RiSC). The D-RiSC coalition is mobilizing to urge the Governor to include an additional $100 million for the Office of Emergency Services (OES) in the upcoming FY 2018-19 state budget to assist local agencies prepare for and respond to fire emergencies.  

With the release of the May Revise just weeks away, the Coalition needs your help! We need you to urge Governor Jerry Brown to prioritize additional funding for fire prevention and mutual aid support in his proposed budget. This budget request is a cost effective investment that can save lives, structures and reduce the cost of disaster response. 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) estimates that it spent $700 million fighting fires, which was twice the amount of its allocated budget. In 2017, over 35,600 requests were made, of which 11,000, or 35 percent, were unfilled. 

Firefighting leaders need additional support to implement what is known as “pre-positioning,” which enables firefighting resources (equipment and first responders) to be on standby where and when weather conditions pose the greatest fire risk. Pre-positioning firefighting resources allows responders to attack and control fires quickly and aggressively, helping them save lives and homes. 

DRiSC is requesting $100 million to enable OES to accomplish two main goals:

  • Reimburse local governments for the cost of pre-positioning firefighters and equipment in advance of identifiable risks under the California Mutual Aid System.
  • Upgrade emergency communications and resource dispatching capabilities.

ACTION
The California State Budget negotiations began in January and a balanced budget must be passed by midnight on Friday, June 15, 2018. Fire districts should do the following as soon as possible: 

  1. Send a letter of support from your fire district (sample attached) or you may use the D-RiSC website’s Take Action feature, which provides an online letter submission portal to ask lawmakers to support this budget request. 
  2. Submit a letter to your local newspaper to call for this budget request, which will improve disaster response. Sample letter is available on the Coalition website
  3. If you have an Assembly Member or Senator on one of the committees below, please urge their support of this critical funding by sending them a letter of fire district support or calling your legislator. 

View larger file here.

TALKING POINTS

  • Getting help to a disaster in a few hours is no longer enough to protect communities. We need help in the initial minutes of a disaster.
  • Waiting for a disaster to strike is no longer an acceptable strategy. We can save lives and protect communities by pre-positioning firefighters and equipment in areas where high risks are predicted.
  • $100 million in funding is needed to allow local fire agencies to employ pre-positioning as a disaster readiness strategy and to equip them with the 21st century tools they need to get in front of fast-moving fires and other disasters.

Governor Urged to Direct Resources in Budget to Modernization of Emergency Preparedness Assets 
Year-Round Fire Danger Places New Demand on Local Fire Agencies
April 5, 2018

 With the release of the May Revise just weeks away, the League is part of an effort to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to prioritize additional funding for fire prevention and mutual aid support in his proposed FY 2018–19 budget. 
 
California’s Mutual Aid System needs a mechanism to reimburse local agencies for costs to “pre-position” firefighting resources. This budget request address is a cost effective investment that can save lives, structures and reduce the cost of disaster response.
 
California no longer has a traditional fire season that spikes in the highest heat of the summer and early fall. As last year’s October and December destructive and costly wildfires illustrate, extreme fire conditions has become a year-round concern. This is ongoing danger has led the newly-formed Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (DRiSC) to mobilize and urge the Governor to include an additional $100 million for the Office of Emergency Services (OES) to assist local agencies prepare for and respond to fire emergencies. The League is a member of this coalition.
 
Advances in forecasting have increased the accuracy in predicting when extreme weather conditions are most likely to elevate fire risk to dangerous levels. Fire agencies must now be ready at all times to respond to large scale fire storms locally and throughout the state.
 
Through California’s Mutual Aid System, agencies send first responders to major disasters in other areas when the threat is too large for local resources to handle on their own. Managed by OES, the Mutual Aid System is an effective critical reactive tool that is held up as a national model in firefighting and responding to other large scale disasters, however it must be modernized to address the reality of extreme weather and expanded fire risk.
 
The costs of responding to extreme disasters are staggering. A single mega fire exceed over $100 in response costs. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) estimates that it spent $700 million fighting fires, which was twice the amount of its allocated budget.
 
Pre-Positioning
The new normal of year-round fire danger means brings challenges to the Mutual Aid System, which must become proactive too, instead of primarily reactive.
 
In 2017, over 35,600 requests were made, of which 11,000, or 35 percent, were unfilled. Firefighting leaders need additional support to implement what is known as “pre-positioning,” which enables firefighting resources (equipment and first responders) to be on standby where and when weather conditions pose the greatest fire risk. Pre-positioning firefighting resources allows responders to attack and control fires quickly and aggressively, helping them save lives and homes.
 
Budget Request Will Enable Local Firefighting Agencies to Respond Faster and More Effectively 
There is currently no mechanism to reimburse local agencies for the cost of pre-positioning, which is why DRiSC is requesting $100 million to enable OES to accomplish two main goals: 

  • Reimburse local governments for the cost of pre-positioning firefighters and equipment in advance of identifiable risks under the California Mutual Aid System; and
  • Upgrade emergency communications and resource dispatching capabilities.

Take Action 
The DRisC website includes several tools to urge the Governor to include $100 for disaster preparedness.
 
The Take Action feature provides an online letter submission portal to ask the Governor, Senators and Assembly members to support this budget request.
 
It also has a form to submit a short letter to your local newspaper to call for this budget request to improve disaster response.

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