CDF Director Says "Cosmetic" Air Drops Made During Firestorms
Public Criticism Hurt Firefighting Efforts, CDF Says
SAN DIEGO -- Air tankers and helicopters made ineffective and cosmetic air drops of water over San Diego County during the biggest wildfire in state history in response to public pressure from critics, the agency's director said Wednesday.
Andrea Tuttle made the remark during a hearing of the governor's blue ribbon panel examining the response to the deadly fall wildfires in California at the Paradise Point Resort Conference Center in Mission Bay. Tuttle did not provide specific examples of useless air drops made to quiet critics.
The Cedar fire, which burned 273,000 acres in San Diego County, was the biggest, deadliest and most destructive of the blazes that swept across Southern California in October. It was responsible for 15 of the 23 deaths and more than half the 3,650 homes detroyed in six counties.
Tuttle said the agency was unprepared for the "incessant fingerpointing and second-guessing" by the media and public officials that was unique to San Diego.
During the fire, Republican politicians crticized state forestry officials for dragging their feet on seeking approval to use military planes to help fight the region's deadly wildfires. A 1932 law that requires civilian resources to be exhausted first.
Tuttle said her agency needs more detailed guidelines on when to use military helicopters in case of a future firestorm. She said that a resolution on when to use military resources is needed now, not "during a firestorm." She said issues such as avionics compatibility and leadership responsibilities in using military resources must be resolved before the next crisis.
Tuttle also called for better public understanding of firefighting procedures, better ways to meet firefighter safety needs and improved public information centers.
The Blue Ribbon Fire Commission was established by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Gray Davis in the wake of the October wildfires. It includes county Supervisor Greg Cox; San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy; San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman; Sen. DeDe Alpert, D-Coronado; Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego; and Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego.
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 in Riverside.
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01-22-2004, 10:45 AM #1
"Cosmetic" Air Drops Made During California Firestorms
01-22-2004, 11:31 AM #2
Someone tell me if I am reading this correctly...
They didn't have the resources needed to perform effective air drops. So, to make the incompetent news media shut up, they made air drops anyway knowing they were not really doing anything.
If this is the case, I'm not really sure who is the "bad guy" here. On the one hand, if they did nothing, the media would make spectacle of how they aren't doing anything, you know, since the news media knows everything. We all know how they are. It was probably a lot easier for them to put on a show and make them all shut up then explain why it isn't worth even trying. They would just change it around and still make it look like they are not doing their job.
On the otherhand, it may have been better to stick to their guns and say "this is a waste of airplanes and fuel. it isn't going to do any good. We need more help now!"
I think the people that prevented them from calling in the help they needed is the real dweeb here.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
01-22-2004, 11:56 AM #3
Just imagine if one of these "cosmetic" air drops were the one that crashed and killed their crew members... oh lord!
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