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Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities – D-RiSC

 

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 have become a year-round concern. This ongoing danger has led the newly-formed Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (D-RiSC) 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 climate-driven wildfires, floods, mudslides and other natural disasters. In addition to FDAC, coalition partners include CalChiefs, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs of California, FIRESCOPE, California Professional Firefighters and the League of California Cities.  FDAC has donated $30,000 to the coalition efforts.  

D-RiSC is urging Senators, Assemblymembers and Governor Brown to include $100 million in the FY18-19 State Budget for OES to reimburse local agencies for the cost of pre-positioning personnel and apparatus.  The two main goals of this budget request are:

  • Have a mechanism to 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.

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 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.

The new normal of year-round fire danger 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.

 

 

March 29, 2018

Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities

Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities from CA Professional Firefighters on Vimeo.

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