The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided the state of California with substantial resources to fight the current wildfires and others that have threatened the state this year. Just since last Thursday, FEMA has approved seven Fire Management Assistance Grants to support the state's effort to combat the recent outbreak of wildfires:
Date of Grant
|Grand Prix||San Bernadino||Thursday, October 23|
|Verdale||Los Angeles||Saturday, October 25|
|Piru||Ventura||Saturday, October 25|
|Paradise||San Diego||Sunday, October 26|
|Cedar||San Diego||Sunday, October 26|
|Simi Incident||Ventura||Sunday, October 26|
|Old||San Bernadino||Sunday, October 26|
Federal Fire Management Assistance Grants are provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available to affected states by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. The assistance pays up to 75 percent of a state's eligible firefighting and emergency response costs for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. Eligible state firefighting costs can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.
In addition, over the weekend Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection made 100 agents available to the state of California to assist with evacuations, security and traffic control.
On Sunday, FEMA activated its Regional Operations Center in Northern California to work in close coordination with California Office of Emergency Services and Rescue Branch to monitor fire activity and plan response and recovery efforts. To further assist California in identifying additional resources to help fight these wildfires, FEMA officials have also facilitated conversations with neighboring states to discuss available firefighting personnel and equipment.
Federal firefighting assistance was previously authorized for eight other fires this year in California including:
- Five fires in Riverside County (Pass Fire, October 21; Bridge Fire, September 6; Locust Fire, August 19; Canyon fire, July 25; and Railroad fire, July 3)
- Two fires in Kern County (Tejon fire, June 29; Sawmill fire, June 28)
- One fire in Los Angeles County (Pacific fire, January 7)
The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency has also provided almost $14 million ($13,570,412) in 114 Assistance to Firefighter grants this year to California fire departments to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, purchase new fire equipment, and develop new emergency medical service programs, fire prevention and safety programs and firefighter health and safety programs. This year's grants are in addition to the nearly $25 million ($24,883,728) the Bush Administration has provided directly to California fire departments through this grant program since 2001.
The state of California has submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration. FEMA is working with the state on their request so that a determination can be made as quickly as possible.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.