SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the wake of some of the largest and deadliest fire and mudslide events in California’s history and the anticipated increase in climate-driven disasters, a coalition of local fire agency leaders is urging Governor Brown and state lawmakers to provide an additional $100 million in state funds for pre-deployment of staffing, apparatus and equipment before extreme weather events and for improved communications throughout the state’s Mutual Aid Response System.
“Governor Brown clearly recognizes the threat of climate-related disasters and declared during his State of the State that ‘we have to be ready with the necessary firefighting capability and communications systems,’” said Mark Hartwig, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. “We commend the governor’s commitment today of $25 million of Cap and Trade funding to fund additional fire engines for the mutual aid system, and we look forward to working with state lawmakers on a larger investment to increase preparedness, improve communication and fund public safety personnel deployed to disaster-stricken areas.”
According to a December report from Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, “The October 2017 wildfires resulted in the most destructive fires in the history of the state in terms of the number of structures destroyed. While claims data is still being received, the latest information is that this widespread destruction resulted in damaging or destroying more than 14,700 homes and 728 businesses, causing more than nine billion dollars in insured damages so far.”
“As devastating and tragic as the recent fires and mudslides across our state have been, the pre-positioning of additional, local emergency responders and equipment before these events helped to prevent further loss of life and property damage,” said Daryl Osby, chair of FIRESCOPE, which coordinates the allocation and movement of mutual aid resources throughout the State of California. “As California experiences more devastating climate-related disasters, the local fire agencies that provide 80 percent of emergency response are calling on the Governor and state legislators to provide additional funding to deploy resources before extreme weather events to protect life and property.”
According to the coalition, Ventura County effectively used state funding to up-staff and pre-position 24 additional fire engines in anticipation of the wind event prior to the Thomas Fire. In addition, local government resources from around California were pre-deployed in Montecito and performed a number of successful swiftwater rescues.
“These devastating fires can emit more greenhouse gases than a year’s worth of vehicle travel in California,” said Eric Nickel, chair of the League of California Cities Fire Chiefs. “Enhanced fire prevention and firefighting capability is about both responding to climate-related disasters and preventing their further worsening of greenhouse gases and climate change.”
In its letter to Governor Brown and the Legislature, the local fire agency coalition urged $100 million in increased funding to:
- Fund pre-positioning of all-hazard resources in advance of predicted extreme weather events
- Modernize the aging Mutual Aid System to facilitate ordering, logistical support and command and control functions at local public safety communications centers
- Purchase fire, rescue, HAZMAT and EMS equipment for distribution from the Office of Emergency Services to local agencies in the Mutual Aid System
- Fund a geo-based opt-out disaster notification system to alert people in the path of approaching or anticipated life-threatening events
In addition to the California Fire Chiefs Association, coalition members include Metropolitan Fire Chiefs of California, Fire Districts of California, League of California Cities Fire Chiefs and FIRESCOP. The coalition plans to advocate for increased funding to protect our communities and residents from more severe and unpredictable weather events through legislative oversight hearings and the State Budget process.