Firefighters, Fire Chiefs, State Lawmakers & Community Leaders Rally for Increased Mutual Aid Funding to Protect our Communities

Press Conference Wednesday, May 9 at 10 am at the Capitol

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sacramento, CA – California Fire Chiefs, firefighters from across the state, local elected officials and community leaders will join Senator Mike McGuire, Senator Bill Dodd and state legislators to urge the state to increase funding to protect our communities from the rising threats of natural disasters in “California’s New Normal.” The funding would be invested in California's severely strained firefighting mutual aid and dispatch systems for both local fire departments and CalFire.

“Last year’s massive wildland fires were the deadliest and most destructive in modern American history and our state is facing a new normal when it comes to the size and scope of wildland fires. It has become clear that even the finest firefighting force in the nation – and the gold standard of mutual systems here in California – has become overwhelmed,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “We are proud to join with firefighters, fire chiefs and local community leaders to call for an additional $184 million in enhanced firefighting resources to combat this new reality.”

On Wednesday, May 9, at 10 am on the south side of the State Capitol building, a coalition of local firefighters represented by California Professional Firefighters, CalFire firefighters Local 2881, California Fire Chiefs, community leaders and state lawmakers will mark Wildfire Awareness Week by holding a special press conference to detail this critical funding measure.

“Our Mutual Aid resources are overstressed. In the last six years, the number of annual requests for assistance that go ‘unfilled’ has skyrocketed from 300 to 11,000 – 30 percent of all requests. We need to strengthen and modernize our Mutual Aid System into a proactive system that can fight fires and other disasters in the first hour by pre-positioning firefighters and equipment where high risks are predicted,” said Mark Hartwig, Fire Chief for San Bernardino County Fire and president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. 

 “CalFire appreciates Senator McGuire bringing together firefighters from throughout the state to work collaboratively on planning for disasters in this New Normal,” said Cliff Allen, President of Cal Fire Local 2881.

“Whether it’s catastrophic fire or other disasters, we know that getting mutual aid resources in place ahead of time can save lives and property,” said Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters. “Hundreds, maybe thousands of lives were saved during the Montecito debris flow because our USAR resources were in position before the massive rains hit. California needs to make a commitment to a modern mutual aid response system to meet the changing threat we face.”

Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey saw the devastating impacts of the mutual aid strain on resources during the North Bay Firestorm last October. “Through California’s Mutual Aid System — where neighbor helps neighbor in times of disaster — firefighters and strike teams from across the state helped our city fight the Tubbs Fire, and at one point, we had 7,000 fire fighters at our camp grounds,” Mayor Coursey said. “As good as our Mutual Aid System is in California, it isn’t as proactive, nimble and robust as it needs to be in this day of ferocious, wind-driven fires. In fact, it took many hours and even days for the full force of Mutual Aid help to reach Santa Rosa as our city burned.”

Press Conference Details:

Date: Wednesday, May 9

Time: 10 am

Location: Just off the South Steps of the State Capitol building (near N and 10th streets)

 

Brief breakdown of the two funding requests which will  modernize California's firefighting service to combat our new normal. This investment will save lives in every corner of the Golden State:

  • $100 million for pre-positioning fire resources in high-risk areas prior to the onset of extreme weather conditions, and improved communications technologies to allow more efficient and effective resource deployment.
  • $84 million to purchase 31 CalFire engines - that were cut from the state budget back in 1975 - and to hire the skilled and trained personnel to staff the emergency response rigs.

 

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