FEMA Responds To California Wildfires

Oct. 27, 2003
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is responding quickly to the recent outbreak of wildfires in California. Thousands of emergency responders are involved at the federal, state and local level.

As of press time, the fires have devastated areas in San Diego, Ventura, San Bernadino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, killing 13 and destroying 800 homes. Thousands have fled to temporary shelters, not knowing if their homes and businesses will be left standing. Firefighters believe only about 20 percent of the wildfires are contained at this point. Arson is suspected in at least two of the major fires.

"FEMA is responsible for coordinating federal assets, and we are providing California with substantial resources to fight these current wildfires and others that have threatened the state this year," said Jeff Griffin, regional director of FEMA Region IX, which serves California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and several western Pacific jurisdictions. "Our regional operations center is open 24/7 with staff pre-positioned to support any requests from the state. And President Bush has delegated his authority to Under Secretary Michael Brown to give immediate firefighting assistance."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates the disaster relief efforts of 27 federal departments and agencies, including the American Red Cross. Here is a summary of federal activities to date in response to wildfires in California:

The U. S. Forest Service is sending personnel and resources, as needed, from its regional management unit, one of the largest firefighting forces in the nation. The strike teams and their caches are mobilized through the Southern California Geographic Coordination Center, an entity responsible for interagency coordination.

Using Norton Air Force Base, the Department of Defense is providing a staging area for transporting needed personnel, as well as providing air support, equipment and other resources.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is also supporting state and county firefighting efforts with personnel and other resources.

FEMA has approved Fire Management Assistance Grants for seven major fires: Pass, Riverside County; Grand Prix, San Bernardino County; Verdale, Los Angeles and Ventura counties; Old, San Bernardino County; Paradise, San Diego County; Cedar, San Diego County; and Simi, Ventura County.

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.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!