1. #1
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    Post California reviews wildfire SOPs

    SAN DIEGO (AP) - Using a wildfire warning system similar to the
    U.S. Homeland Security Department's color-coded terror alerts and
    making firefighting aircraft available around the clock were among
    dozens of recommendations issued Friday by firefighters from
    western states.
    Participants at a conference sponsored by the California Fire
    Chiefs Association and the Western Fire Chiefs Association noted
    that many of the proposals were not new and will amount to nothing
    unless city planners, insurance companies and homeowners start
    paying attention.
    During the closing session, a speaker asked how many in the
    audience of about 300 people weren't firefighters, and no one
    raised their hand.
    "The builders need to come, the planners need to come, the
    community needs to come, the fire service needs to come, and be led
    by the president of the United States," said Jeff Bowman, fire
    chief for the city of San Diego. Bowman said President Bush
    declined his invitation to the conference.
    Recommendations included:
    -Making aircraft available 24 hours a day to fight wildfires.
    -Creating incentives for businesses to dispose of
    beetle-infested trees, which pose a major hazard.
    -Inviting builders, urban planners and environmentalists to ride
    along with firefighters during major blazes.
    -Making federal disaster relief aid contingent on how well
    homeowners protected their homes.
    "The biggest thing that came out of this is that what we need
    to do is get the planners involved, get the insurance industry
    involved, get the building people, get the environmental people,"
    said Erwin Willis, fire chief of Rancho Santa Fe, a north San Diego
    suburb. "This isn't a problem the fire service can solve. It's
    impossible."
    William Bamattre, the Los Angeles fire chief, said the recent
    fires underscored the need for uniform construction standard. That
    way, when firefighters are called in from out of town to battle a
    major fire, they will know what to expect.
    "This is a statewide problem," he said. "When you have
    someone from Northern California come to the San Diego area, they
    don't have the same building codes, the same protections (and) it
    makes it that much more difficult to address the problem."
    The three-day brainstorming session was the latest attempt to
    draw lessons from Southern California's fires, which claimed 24
    lives, destroyed thousands of homes and other structures and
    charred more than 750,000 acres. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blue
    Ribbon Fire Commission held its fourth meeting at the same Mission
    Bay resort on Wednesday.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Review continues

    SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego region needs three firefighting
    helicopters, according to a study released Wednesday that shows it
    lags behind other Southern California counties in aerial power.
    The city of San Diego commissioned the study by Conklin & de
    Decker Associates of Arlington, Texas, after October's firestorms.
    San Diego County was the site of the deadliest blaze - the Cedar
    fire - which caused 15 of the 24 deaths in six Southern California
    counties and destroyed 2,200 of 3,650 homes.
    The study recommends the choppers be able to drop about 400
    gallons of water. That type of aircraft would cost about $6.5
    million apiece, or $3.5 million used, and $200,000 each to operate
    for a year.
    The fleet would allow the region to have aerial firefighting
    power around the clock, seven days a week, the study said. Building
    a larger fleet would be too difficult to manage, at least
    initially.
    Mayor Dick Murphy said he would appeal to the county government
    and other cities to share costs.
    The region's lack of aircraft has emerged as a top concern after
    last year's blazes exposed a dearth of resources. The San Diego
    Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff's Department have
    several helicopters but they are used primarily for law
    enforcement.
    The Navy, Coast Guard and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station have
    military helicopters but no agreements with local governments to
    use them in fire emergencies. The state of California and the
    military are working to find a way to use those aircraft in the
    next major blaze.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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  3. #3
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    Post Southern Cal Report

    SAN DIEGO (AP) - Poor communication and conflicting state and
    federal policies hampered firefighting efforts, delayed accurate
    evacuation information and grounded aircraft that could have been
    used to fight San Diego County's deadly wildfires, according to a
    new report.
    The report, released Wednesday by the Cleveland National Forest
    and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,
    recommends improved safety training, acquiring new equipment, and
    better countywide planning and interagency coordination. The
    58-page study will be sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blue
    Ribbon Fire Commission, as well as to public safety agencies and
    elected officials.
    The 2003 San Diego County Fire Siege Fire Safety Review focused
    on the three major fires that started in the county in late
    October, killing 16 people, destroying 3,241 structures and racking
    up more than $43 million in suppression costs. The Cedar Fire
    alone, at 273,246 acres, was the largest wildfire in state history.
    "We'll always have wind-driven fires. We've never been able to
    stop them," said Rich Hawkins, fire chief for the Cleveland
    National Forest. "But there's two things we could work on."
    "A lot more thought should be given to evacuation systems and
    planning in general," Hawkins said, "and far more attention given
    to community protection, including the homeowners' responsibility
    to properly manage the vegetation around their homes."
    "So the next time we have a large wind-driven fire, we'll be
    better prepared."
    In the early hours of the Cedar Fire, fire and law enforcement
    personnel underestimated its potential size and rate of spread, the
    report said. Several communities, including the Muth Valley area
    northeast of downtown San Diego, where several people were killed,
    had no warning of the approaching fire.
    Fragmentation of firefighting teams, the use of incompatible
    radio systems, and the involvement of agencies from multiple
    jurisdictions all hampered the ability to communicate and share
    information about the fire's progress. Officers also were uncertain
    about which areas had been evacuated or which needed to be
    evacuated or closed.
    "Rural residents who had experienced fires in the past took the
    initiative to evacuate the area, and took time to notify and assist
    their neighbors in evacuating," the report said. "Others
    sheltered in place, and successfully defended their homes, often at
    great personal risk."
    Confusion about whether to allow flights at dusk kept
    helicopters from being used shortly after the Cedar Fire was
    reported Oct. 25 in the Cleveland National Forest. State and
    federal policies differ over what type of aircraft can fly as
    sunset approaches. The issue caused an outcry among local
    politicians and many residents.
    The report also notes that a "no divert" policy kept other
    aircraft grounded that could have been used to fight the Cedar Fire
    and makes recommendations about using the military's water-dropping
    helicopters in the future.
    Fuel management, planning, building and zoning codes and public
    education are crucial to mitigating the effects of future fire
    emergencies, the report said.
    In the Cedar Fire burn area, "over half the homes and
    associated outbuildings had less than the required 30 feet of
    vegetation clearance around their perimeters," the report said.
    The study noted that many of its findings were similar to a 1972
    task force report ordered after a 13-day fire siege in Southern
    California, which called for improved codes and planning, fuels
    management, coordination and public education.
    The 1972 report, however, did not address the importance of
    cooperation between residents whose property borders the wildland,
    and local, state and federal governments to identify wildfire
    protection solutions, an issue now considered a critical part of
    overall wildfire strategy, according to the report.
    "We are doing some things better. ... But there's still
    improvement needed. We haven't implemented everything out of the
    1970s report," said Chuck Maner, chief of the San Diego Unit of
    the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
    Hawkins said there's a "narrow window of opportunity" after
    such disasters where changes need to be implemented "before the
    public starts to forget.
    ---
    Associated Press writer Theresa Bowen contributed to this
    report.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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    Post Reviews continue

    State panel endorses wildfire risk rating system
    By RYAN PEARSON
    Associated Press Writer
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - California should develop a new system to
    rate wildfire risks that would guide how officials manage at-risk
    lands and respond to blazes, according to recommendations endorsed
    Thursday by a blue ribbon state panel.
    The panel, formed in response to last fall's deadly Southern
    California firestorms, approved about 50 recommendations - many
    costly - to be included in a final report it will present April 5
    to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    They include efforts to increase cooperation and communication
    between fire agencies; calls for increased training and a number of
    requests for new equipment, ranging from fire engines to handheld
    radios.
    The panel also called for speedier deployment of military
    aircraft; a review by fire agencies of their cut-off time for
    sending helicopters and planes out to battle a blaze and a new
    legislative committee dedicated to fire response policy.
    The governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Commission made no cost
    estimates and members did not collectively endorse any specific
    funding source for their proposals.
    State Sen. Dede Alpert, D-San Diego, noted the difficulty of
    funneling dollars to wildfire prevention and suppression during a
    time of predicted statewide budget cuts.
    "If you really did everything on our wish list, it would be in
    the billion-dollar range," said Alpert, chairwoman of the Senate's
    appropriations committee.
    A proposal to standardize fire codes in at-risk communities
    statewide likely will be included in the final report, several
    panel members said after the hearing at a Los Angeles hotel. A
    specific recommendation to do so, however, was stripped Thursday
    from the draft report.
    Local authorities typically determine fire safety rules, ranging
    from which building materials are permitted to how much clearing
    space is required around a house.
    A key new effort in the panel's plan would develop a
    comprehensive assessment of risks to communities and wildlife, then
    rate the wildfire risk for specific areas. The analysis and rating
    would be used by various agencies to make decisions such as whether
    to clear brush or other wildfire fuel.
    Jerry Williams, director of fire and aviation management for the
    U.S. Forest Service, said the statewide assessment would be
    integrated into local, state and federal land use and management
    plans. It would be the first of its kind in the nation, he said.
    The panel, which met seven times across the region since
    November, was formed in response to fall firestorms that claimed 24
    lives, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and charred more than
    750,000 acres.
    It is the latest effort to analyze agencies' response to major
    wildfires. Previous reports on decades-old fires included many
    similar recommendations, the commission noted.
    Retired state Sen. William Campbell, the panel's chairman, said
    he hoped to spur action by reconvening the commission in six months
    or one year.
    "We do not want this sitting on the shelf," he said. "If we
    keep coming back and poking at it, we will keep the dust off."

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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