WeatherFire Watch


Gov. Newsom aims to bolster CAL FIRE, add firefighters as fire season ramps up

Posted at 3:06 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 23:01:32-04

Gov. Gavin Newsom updated California Wednesday on his planned response to prepare for wildfire season while also assuring the public that his efforts will not affect California's response to COVID-19.

With the help of CAL FIRE Chief Tom Porter, the emergency services community, PG&E and the public, Newsom hopes to get California properly prepared for the season with adequate wildfire mitigation plans.

"It's a tired cliche, but you got to walk and chew gum," Newsom said. "At the same time we're focused on coronavirus mitigation, trying to do our best to suppress the spread. At the same time, we've got to mitigate and suppress these fires as we move into wildfire season."

PG&E has recently increased its number of weather stations and HD cameras to properly observe and prepare for wildfires.

The budget of the office of emergency services is improving for ongoing monitoring of wildfires, earthquakes and all other hazards as well as obtaining a $17.3 million budget for proper early warning systems.

Newsom also announced that CAL FIRE will receive $85.7 million to enhance and improve surge capacity by hiring additional personnel.

Porter says the most important aspects to a successful effort are response, prevention and preparedness.

Within the response sector Porter said in all large emergencies CAL FIRE leads the response, but not on their own.

CAL FIRE is successful largely in part by the participation of local government, cities, counties, districts, federal partners as well as the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the sector of prevention, Porter notes that prevention is fundamental to keeping fires small, and keeping firefighters healthy so they can continue to help the public.

Lastly, in the sector of preparedness, Porter points out that the public has a huge part in this, he encourages the community to visit to look for checklist and important information in the effort of properly responding to wildfire hazards.

Newsom also updated the public of the changes in hospitalizations, positive cases, deaths and ICUs that occurred in the last 24 hours.

Hospitalizations have increased by .5%, there have been 1,759 positive cases, 87 deaths and ICU utilization has decreased by .3%.