Governor Establishes Blue Ribbon Task Force Ensuring California is Prepared when Disaster Strikes

Governor Establishes Blue Ribbon Task Force Ensuring California is Prepared when Disaster Strikes

29 June 2009

published by www.imperialvalleynews.com


USA —

As part of his ongoing commitment to emergency preparedness, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued Executive Order S-12 -09 (EO) to reinforce California’s vigilance in protecting lives and property from wildfire. The EO directs the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to ensure that recommendations made by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, established after California’s catastrophic 2003 wildfire siege, continue to be implemented.

“As we head into the third straight fire season during a drought, California must be prepared to fight devastating wildfires any time of year,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The state did a great job in quickly responding last year when California was engulfed by 2,000 fires and, with today’s action, we will ensure the state continues to be as prepared as possible when any disaster strikes.”

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Fire Commission was established in November 2003 by both Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis. In April 2004, the Commission issued 48 recommendations for improving emergency preparedness to prevent and respond to California wildfires.

California has made significant progress in meeting the Commission’s recommendations. More than 100 new engines have been purchased to replace aging CAL FIRE engines; more than 42 new engines have been purchased to replace aging California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) engines; and, 19 additional new engines have been purchased by Cal EMA. The BRTF will work to ensure the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Fire Commission recommendations continue to be implemented.

Additionally today, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the two co-chairs and 14 members of the BRTF. He designated California Professional Firefighters President Lou Paulson and Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert as members and the two co-chairs, and designated State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris, Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman, CDF Firefighter IAFF 2881 President Bob Wolf, Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper, Orange County Fire Chief Chip Prather, CAL FIRE Director Del Walters, San Diego City Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, Assistant State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, San Bernardino County Fire Chief Pat Dennen, California State Firefighters Association Member and Riverside City Fire Marshal Mike Esparza, United State Forest Service Region 5 Fire and Aviation Management Director Ed Hollenshead and Governor’s Office Public Safety Liaison Tom Sawyer as members of BRFT.

In preparation for this year’s fire season and dry summer, the Governor also issued Executive Order S-05-09 last month mobilizing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to secure and deploy additional resources and personnel necessary to save lives and protect homes statewide from wildfires. He also issued a proclamation declaring May 2nd to 9th “Wildfire Awareness Week” to urge all Californians to do their part to prevent wildfires.

The full text of the Governor’s EO is below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER S-12-09

WHEREAS in October 2003, California suffered one of the most disastrous and deadly fire sieges in the state’s history; and

WHEREAS the 2003 fire siege took the lives of 23 civilians and one firefighter, destroyed 3,710 homes, destroyed critical infrastructure, burned over 750,000 acres, significantly impacted the environment, and caused $2.5 billion in damages; and

WHEREAS in November 2003 as Governor-Elect, I established the Blue Ribbon Commission with then-Governor Davis to prepare recommendations for policy-makers in the aftermath of the 2003 fire siege to promote a fire safe environment in wildland urban interface areas in response to this deadly firestorm; and

WHEREAS after five months of thorough study and research, the commission issued 48 recommendations for improving emergency preparedness to prevent and respond to California wildfires; and

WHEREAS following the recommendations, over 100 new engines have been purchased to replace aging California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) engines; and

WHEREAS following the recommendations, over 42 new engines have been purchased to replace aging California Emergency Management Agency (CAL EMA) engines; and

WHEREAS following the recommendations, 19 of 150 additional Cal EMA new engines have been purchased; and

WHEREAS in July 2005, I signed Executive Order S-6-05, allocating significant resources to fulfill Blue Ribbon Fire Commission recommendations including:

  • $10.8 million annually to replace aging fire engines.                                  
  • $9 million annually for year-round staffing at fire-season levels in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Orange counties.
     
  • $12 million over five years for state-of-the-art radio equipment to increase interoperability among Cal FIRE, federal and local officials; and

WHEREAS in 2006 California began a period of significant drought; and

WHEREAS in 2007 California experienced yet another devastating firestorm that took the lives of 10 civilians and seriously burned three firefighters, destroyed 2,233 homes, destroyed critical infrastructure, burned over 500,000 acres, seriously impacted the environment, and caused over $300 million in damages; and

WHEREAS in the 2007 fire siege significantly more lives were saved, significantly more homes were saved and over 200,000 less acres were burned than in the initial 2003 fire siege; and

WHEREAS California’s Mediterranean climate lends itself to wildfires, similar catastrophic fires will take place again due to prolonged drought periods, Santa Ana and other significant wind patterns, dry vegetation, a growing population, and residential development in wildland areas; and

WHEREAS we need to remain vigilant about continuing our progress in meeting the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations in order to continue to save lives, property and natural resources in this great state.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following orders to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED that the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) is hereby recognized and directed to ensure recommendations set forth in the report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) titled “California Fire Prevention and Suppression Action Plan” and dated September 10, 2004, continue to be implemented.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that task force membership shall include one representative each from the United States Forest Service, Governor’s Office Public Safety Liaison, Cal EMA’s Fire and Rescue Branch, Cal FIRE, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, San Bernardino County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department, San Diego City Fire Department, California Fire Chiefs’ Association, California Professional Firefighters, California State Firefighters Association and CDF Firefighters.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that I shall designate two co-chairs from the membership of the BRTF.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that BRTF members will serve without compensation, and that all costs incurred due to participation shall be borne by the representative’s service, office, agency, department or association.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the BRTF shall meet as appropriate to fulfill its functions and shall comply with the open meetings laws of California.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the BRTF shall submit a written report upon confirmed completion of the BRC recommendations or as ordered by the Governor.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the BRTF shall disband 30 days after reporting to the satisfaction of the Governor that all recommendations of the BRC have been met, excepting those having projected completion dates of “Ongoing,” or when ordered to by the Governor.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this Order.

                                                                        IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of                                                                                                             California to be affixed this 29TH day of June, 2009.

 

                                                                        ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
                                                                        Governor of California


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