Gov. Mobilizes Agencies in Response to Expected High Temperatures

Gov. Mobilizes Agencies in Response to Expected High Temperatures

21 September 2009

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today mobilized the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to prepare for increased wildfire potential as unseasonably hot and dry conditions are forecast for much of California this week. Additionally, the Governor directed Cal/OSHA to carry out the largest heat enforcement effort in its history to protect California’s workers from heat-related illness during this week’s high temperatures.

“California must be ready for any fires or heat-related illnesses that may occur as hot and dry conditions continue throughout the state,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I’ve directed our state’s first responders to prepare for any situation that may arise and ensure that our resources are prepositioned and ready to respond quickly. We must do everything we can to protect the safety of all Californians and California’s workers during this extreme heat.”

The National Weather Service has issued several “Red Flag Warnings” and “Fire Weather Watches” for parts of Northern and Southern California this week, warning residents about the increased fire potential created by hot temperatures, low humidity and off-shore winds. Winds are forecast to occur late Monday night into Tuesday morning and again Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with gusts up to 35 miles per hour (mph) in the passes and canyons and local gusts up to 45 mph.

Additionally, the Governor has directed Cal/OSHA to carry out the largest heat enforcement effort in its history. Investigators will comb the areas throughout California, ensuring compliance to the state’s heat illness prevention regulations. This week’s enforcement activity involves more than 20 enforcement teams and approximately 70 Cal/OSHA personnel. The Department of Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s Licensing Unit will also be on hand to verify the status of required licenses in the agriculture setting for Farm Labor Contractors. Enforcement staff will verify contractor’s licenses in the construction industry through the Contractors State License Board.

As a result of the increased fire risk potential, Cal EMA has coordinated with CAL FIRE and local agencies to identify state, federal and local firefighting resources such as fire engines, water tenders, helicopters and air tankers available to be deployed from throughout the state. Cal EMA is also working closely with the National Weather Service to monitor any new developments, and Cal EMA and CAL FIRE will quickly deploy resources anywhere they are needed.

Cal EMA has called for the activation of two Cal EMA Type III fire engine strike teams from Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego Counties. A total of 10 fire engines designed to combat wildfires in areas unreachable to conventional engines are being staffed to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

CAL FIRE continuously monitors fire weather and bases staffing levels on current and predicted conditions. Because of the elevated wildfire threat, CAL FIRE increased staffing across the state on Friday, September 18, and has pre-positioned additional equipment to areas of the state where fire danger is heightened due to the existing weather pattern.

To ensure that our state is prepared to battle any fire that may occur as a result of the hot and dry conditions forecasted for this week, CAL FIRE has:

  • Fully staffed CAL FIRE inmate fire crews.
  • Fully staffed CAL FIRE bulldozers.
  • Fully staffed CAL FIRE reserve fire engines.
  • Increased staffing in all Emergency Command Centers.
  • Arranged for air tankers to be made available earlier in the day as needed.
  • Staffed a Mobile Communication Center and Mobile Kitchen Unit.
  • Staffed fire lookouts in northern California as determined by the local unit chief.
  • Staffed additional fire engines, bulldozers and fire crews in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Kern and Marin counties.
  • Funded a fourth firefighter on all state funded engines in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

As part of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to emergency preparedness, he issuedExecutive Order S-05-09 in May, which mobilizes CAL FIRE to secure and deploy the additional resources and personnel that are necessary to save lives and protect homes statewide from wildfires.

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