Governor Newsom Highlights Emergency Preparedness, Additional Resources for this Year’s Fire Season

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom kicked off the first in a series of press events highlighting emergency preparedness during the fire season, signing an executive order announcing a surge in nearly 400 seasonal firefighters to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for this year’s fire season. The additional firefighters will be placed statewide.

“Climate change has created a new reality in California with catastrophic fires, and there is nothing more critical for my Administration than to ensure we are investing in resources that can help our firefighters and communities prepare and respond to fires and other natural disasters,” said Governor Newsom.

The Governor made the announcement while touring the site of a fuel management project in the Colfax area, which he last visited in January during his first full day in office, and laid out a series of actions to prepare for the risk of wildfires. In March, Governor Newsom also proclaimed a State of Emergency to immediately expedite 35 forest management projects, including the North Fork American River Fuel Break near Colfax, to better protect 200 communities most prone to fire risk.

The additional seasonal firefighters will produce efficiencies in wildland firefighting and enable additional shift rotation. CAL FIRE engine crews also conduct fuels management. In addition to the added seasonal firefighters, the Governor added 13 new fire engines through this fiscal year.

The state budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last month, invests nearly $1 billion in emergency preparedness, response and recovery to help California communities prepare for disasters.

The full text of today’s executive order is below:

WHEREAS California experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018, devastating areas throughout California; and

WHEREAS a State of Emergency has been proclaimed to exist in California due to a vast tree die-off throughout the state, which has contributed to worsening forest conditions, creating extremely dangerous fire risk; and

WHEREAS an effective response to the catastrophic wildfire risks created by these forest conditions is likely beyond the capacity of any single local government, and requires the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS live fuel moisture levels are decreasing across the state under arid conditions, approaching a threshold wherein vegetation easily ignites and sustains fire; and

WHEREAS successive fire seasons in California have required firefighting professionals to spend consecutive weeks on-duty and without respite during high fire risk; and

WHEREAS the efficacy of wildland firefighting is enhanced by assigning a fourth crew member to fire engines; and

WHEREAS coordinated fire prevention, aggressive fuel reduction programs and strong initial attack resources are essential to protect lives, property and the environment in California.

NOW, THEREFORE I, GAVIN NEWSOM, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following Order to become effective immediately:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) work with the Department of Finance to identify the funding available for 2019 emergency fire suppression and detection costs, and to immediately use such funding as follows: 

1. Hire and train additional seasonal firefighters to suppress wildfires, staff fire lookouts, and take other needed actions for the protection of health, safety, and the environment during this time of high fire risk. 

2. Assign a crew of four firefighters to selected CAL FIRE fire engines as warranted based on fire threat conditions.

3. Preposition resources to suppress wildfires and take actions to reduce the threat of large and devastating fires through fuels reduction and defensible space inspections across the State Responsibility Area.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice shall be given to this Order.

This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 31st day of July 2019.

______________________________

 

GAVIN NEWSOM

 

Governor of California

 

ATTEST:

______________________________

 

ALEX PADILLA

 

Secretary of State

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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