March 12, 2013 (Ramona)--Vice-Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Ron Roberts will join disaster response experts at the Ramona Air Field today to urge the federal government to recognize that the Ramona Air Traffic Control Tower is a critical asset during county disasters, especially fires.
The Cal Fire Air Attack Base at the Ramona Air Field responds to an average of 450 calls per year and protects more than 1.7 million acres, including U.S. Forest Service land. The base played a key role in fighting the 2003 and 2007 wildfires. The county, along with Cal Fire, has made significant technology investments and upgrades to aircraft that fly from Ramona.
In response to sequestration, the Federal Aviation Administration is proposing to close air traffic control towers deemed not crucial to the national interest. The County has learned that the Ramona Airport ATCT, operated under a FAA contract with Serco Inc., is targeted for closure.
A press conference will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Emergency Operations Center, 5580 Overland Avenue in San Diego. In addition to Supervisors Jacob and Roberts, speakers will include Dave Hanneman, president, San Diego County Fire Chiefs’ Association and Ray Chaney, Division Chief, Air Operations, Cal Fire.