Governor Provides Update on Wildfire Prevention & Mitigation Under COVID-19
July 16, 2020
Governor Newsom recently visited McClellan Air Force Base to highlight the state’s wildfire mitigation capabilities and discuss new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires. The Governor also announced the state would hire 858 more firefighters and six California Conservation Corps (CCC) crews through October because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These crews are anticipated due, in part, to the reduction in inmate crews from correctional facilities.
Governor Newsom highlighted the major actions and investments made to fortify wildfire preparedness and response capabilities. CAL FIRE recently completed the last of its 35 emergency fuels management projects in May, completing 90,000 acres of treatment top protect 200 vulnerable communities.
The Governor highlighted this year’s budget investments include augmenting CAL FIRE air fleet with new FIREHAWK S-70i helicopters and C-130 airplanes, and bolstering firefighting surge capacity and pre-positioning capabilities. This year’s budget included $85.6 million in new, ongoing dollars to fund permanent firefighting positions, and continues the funding for CAL FIRE to procure innovative technology that allows us to model fire behavior.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CAL FIRE has adjusted firefighting operations to mitigate the spread of the virus within its own crews by holding virtual briefings and keeping non-essential base camp staff off site. CDSS and CAL OES have updated mass care and sheltering protocols to include health screenings, dedicated cleaning staff and medical professionals on site.
All new sheltering protocols require:
- Health screening on entry
- Dedicated cleaning staff at all sites
- Pre-packaged meals
- Medical and mental health professionals on site.
In the event of an evacuation, the state is planning to secure hotel rooms, college dormitories, Airbnb, fairgrounds, and campgrounds to allow individuals to shelter in non-congregate settings.