Governor Gavin Newsom today was joined by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss California’s proactive approach to increasingly widespread, destructive and deadly wildfires. Climate change has created a new wildfire reality in California, and Governor Newsom is expanding firefighting resources and investing in cutting-edge technology so that California can meet this new reality with every tool at its disposal.
“California has to adapt to meet the climate change reality, and there is no higher priority in my administration than to ensure we have the personnel, tools and resources needed to mitigate, prepare and respond more effectively,” said Governor Newsom.
Today’s event took place at the McClellan Air Force Base, where CAL FIRE is training with California’s new firefighting equipment. Governor Newsom and Governor Schwarzenegger received a briefing on California’s state-of-the-art firefighting technology and equipment, observed aviator training and toured a C-130 air tanker, one of seven large firefighting aircraft being acquired by CAL FIRE with funding support from the recently passed budget.
Governor Schwarzenegger held office during an era with many large and deadly wildfires in California, including the Witch Creek Fire and the Station Fire, which have become a frequent and devastating staple of life in California.
“Governor Schwarzenegger understands what it’s like to lead a state that faces the existential threat of wildfire. He lived through some of the most devastating wildfires in our history, including the October 2007 wildfires that burned nearly a million acres of land in seven counties,” added Governor Newsom.
This is the second event this week highlighting the state’s emergency preparedness. Yesterday’s event took place in Colfax, where the Governor announced the authorization of almost 400 additional seasonal firefighters.
The 2019-20 state budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in June, invests in modern equipment and new technology to aggressively boost California’s disaster-response capabilities.
The budget enhances aviation resources by investing $127.2 million to expand CAL FIRE’S fleet with additional aircrafts equipped to meet the challenges associated with more severe wildfire activity – this includes C-130 air tankers and modified Black Hawk helicopters for nighttime firefighting operations.
The budget invests in cutting-edge firefighting technology, putting $24.7 million toward developing innovative solutions to California’s wildfire crisis through an innovation procurement sprint, new fire detection cameras and situational awareness staffing.
Since his first day in office, the Governor has taken swift action to advance disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, and support state and local recovery from recent catastrophic wildfire events, which includes:
- Accelerating implementation of the 35 priority fuel reduction projects identified in the Community Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Report to protect over 200 of California’s most at-risk communities using existing forest health and fire prevention funding.
- Redirecting up to 100 California National Guard personnel to create fuel reduction and fire suppression crews that are available to CAL FIRE to undertake priority projects.
- Launching the California for All Emergency Preparedness Campaign, a joint initiative between Cal Volunteers and Cal OES, to connect vulnerable populations with culturally and linguistically competent support and bolster resiliency. The $50 million campaign is supporting the dispatch of expert disaster teams to key regions and the development of targeted public awareness and outreach campaigns.
- Providing funding from the California Disaster Assistance Act and Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account to support critical disaster relief and recovery activities.
- Publishing the Alert and Warning Guidelines ahead of schedule to help local governments develop robust and effective alert and warning programs.
- Securing delegation of authority from the Secretary of Defense to fly the California National Guard’s infrared-equipped Unmanned Aerial Systems in support of CAL FIRE missions throughout 2019.
- Partnering with the federal government to secure the California National Guard’s access to satellite-based wildfire detection technology.
- Releasing Requests for Proposals to begin overdue modernization of California’s 9‑1‑1 system.
- Working with California’s congressional delegation to secure the state’s eligibility for $12.6 billion in federal funding for disaster relief.