LAFD Helps Battle Multiple Major Wildfires

Sunday, September 20, 2015
Los Angeles

In the wake of multiple large wildfires burning in northern California, the Los Angeles Fire Department has received multiple questions. Here are four questions and four answers on the topic

1. Is the LAFD helping, if so how?

A team of LAFD members at a wildfire

Yes. Your LAFD has sent waves of firefighters over the past few months to various fires. Our previously deployed Strike Teams returned, however on September 19th at 8:16 PM we began assembling another Strike Team comprised of five fire engines and a chief officer to assist with the Tassajara Fire in Monterey, California for a possible 14 day deployment. This Strike Team has been dispatched in accordance with California's Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, administered by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

2. With all those resources sent out of the City, is Los Angles safe? 

Yes. The City of Los Angeles remains fully protected by the use of additional staff and reserve apparatus to cover foreseeable local needs, and we remind local residents that our Strike Teams can be recalled to our City as necessary.

3. What is Mutual Aid and how does it work in California?Map of California Mutual Aid Regions

Simply put, a large wildfire requires a large number of resources to fight it. The possibility of fire and disaster problems that exceed the capacity of the local fire fighting forces must always be considered. For this reason, most fire departments traditionally have rendered mutual assistance to other departments in times of need. Mutual aid plans establish procedures so that each party will know what is expected, of the other, in that time of need.

Mutual aid agreement also includes provisions for standard operation procedures, interdepartmental communications and command responsibility for the participating departments. Mutual Aid allows for local firefighters to respond to their local 9-1-1 calls like heart attacks, traffic collisions, structure fires, etc. while gaining the necessary help to battle the large wildfire. LAFD will dispatch up to 30 engine companies, in the form of strike teams, to major brush fire incidents when requests are received through the major mutual aid agreements we participate in.

California is strategically broken into six regions. LAFD is part of Region 1 which covers San Louis Osbispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange. Those Counties are further broken down into “areas”. LAFD is the coordinator of “Area A”, which is comprised of LAFD, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Culver City Fire Departments, when joined together they are known as a XLA Strike Team.
4. When did Interagency Coordination start? 

As a result of the tragic 1970 wildland fire season in Southern California, in which 500,000 acres burned, over 700 homes were destroyed and 16 lives were lost, in a 13 day period. The FIRESCOPE project was developed. FIRESCOPE is an acronym for Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. LAFD has been a leading partner agency in this program since its beginning.

LAFD Battalion Chief at a wildfireMuch of the Incident Command System, as we know it today came from the original planning groups of FIRESCOPE. Under its development and use, a Strike Team from LAFD will respond to a major wildland fire within California, and will fit right into the Incident Command System, that has been developed to combat such a major incident.

The large scale organization, professionalism, and team work that takes place between various Fire Departments during a large scale wildfire is impressive to watch, to say the least.

Plus, “What goes around, comes around”. We are sending multiple resources to Northern California and they do the same for us when we are in need. Its Team Work at its best. 

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