On Wednesday, RCRC Chair Rex Bohn (Humboldt) joined Senators Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Assembly Members Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), and Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), as well as California fire chiefs, firefighters, and local government leaders at an event at the State Capitol calling for increased mutual aid funding to combat increasing wildfires in California. Organized by the Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (D-RiSC) coalition, the press conference recognized Wildfire Awareness Week, preceding State Budget hearings on funding requests.
D-RiSC is a statewide coalition of organizations representing California’s fire chiefs, firefighters and local governments committed to improving our disaster response capability. RCRC joined the D-RiSC coalition in April.
“Given the severity of wildfires that we now experience in California, it’s imperative that our first responders have the resources they need to protect our natural resources, and keep our communities safe,” said Supervisor Bohn. “D-RiSC seeks funding to improve pre-positioning and communications, providing firefighters with the resources they need to combat these fires.”
Mega fires, mudslides and other extreme weather disasters are California’s “new normal.” In the past six months, California experienced the most destructive fires and deadliest mudslides in our history. Our fire season is now year-round. Wildfires burn faster, larger and longer than ever. In the past 10 years alone, we have seen the state’s worst drought and heaviest recorded rainfall.
California relies on a 68-year old disaster response network known as the Mutual Aid System. It allows local governments to share disaster response resources during large-scale emergencies. But it is a “reactive” system, designed to send resources within 12-24 hours. We don’t need a new Mutual Aid System. Rather, it needs to be modernized to be more proactive to combat the intensity and severity of the conditions we are facing today.
Waiting for a disaster to strike is no longer an acceptable strategy. We can save lives and protect communities by pre-positioning firefighters and equipment in areas where high risks are predicted.
We have to increase the pace and scale of our disaster response. Putting first responders and equipment in a position to quickly address these climate-driven emergencies before extreme weather events — a strategy called pre-positioning — has proven to be effective at reducing loss of lives and property. D-RiSC is asking the state to appropriate $100 million in FY 2018-19 to reimburse local fire agencies for their costs to staff up and pre-position resources.
The coalition includes California Fire Chiefs Association, California Professional Firefighters, California State Firefighters Association, Fire Districts Association of California, FIRESCOPE, League of California Cities and Metropolitan Fire Chiefs of California, among others.
Detailed information on D-RiSC can be accessed here.