August 13, 2014 (Sacramento)—Today, the California Fire Chiefs Association has issued the following news alert with updates on firefighting and wildfire preparedness efforts statewide:
California’s North State has seen intense fire activity over the past few weeks. Tens of thousands of acres burned, several structures lost, and in some cases injuries and deaths have been reported. Drought conditions have complicated the fire fight, as Firefighters see fire behaviors typically seen in very late summer or early fall. Countless lives and properties have been spared as a result of the work and coordination of public safety personnel from many agencies deployed on these incidents.
The California Mutual Aid System is one of the most robust and well-managed networks in the Nation. The system partners’ local government agencies with each other and with the State and Federal agencies – CAL FIRE, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks, etc. - in a firefighting and hazard mitigation effort that is second to none. Local government participation is critical to getting the job done. Each local government agency who participates provides a critical incident management and suppression resource to our State’s public safety needs that cannot be managed by State and Federal resources alone. Working seamlessly with State and Federal Agency counterparts, this mutual aid program provides for exceptional public safety response across the entire State. Local government firefighters from Cities, Counties, Tribal Fire Departments and Special Districts are deployed through a variety of contract agreements, which in many cases provide for complete reimbursement by the State or Federal Government to the local government agency.
According to the California Office of Emergency Services, in late July and early August alone local government agencies had deployed over 490 Fire Engines to incidents throughout the State, with over 2050 firefighting personnel. Additionally, more than 244 Overhead Personnel were deployed in incident management or other specialized roles to assist in the various fire incidents. Add in the firefighters from State and Federal Agencies and we have a virtual army of public safety personnel to tackle these incidents.
Since California has wildland fires year around as a result of the dry conditions, what used to be called “fire season” during the summer months is now being referenced as “peak fire season”. It’s predicted to remain an active peak fire season the weeks ahead. California’s fire service providers urge citizens to prevent fires by avoid tasks and behaviors that put you at greater fire risk. We also encourage residents to maintain a defensible space around your homes to allow firefighters the greatest potential of saving your home if a fire occurs. The California Fire Chiefs Association and its members, including Local government, State, Tribal and Federal Fire Personnel are proud to be serving the citizens of the great State of California and proud to be a part of this robust system that allows us to serve you most efficiently and effectively.