TUESDAY: Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management to Host Informational Hearing “California’s Mutual Aid System: Are Today’s Wildfires Exceeding Our Ability to Protect California from Fire?”

Monday, February 10, 2020

Hearing will examine California’s current emergency management assistance operation.

SACRAMENTO, CA — On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management will look at how mutual aid, an agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries, can be improved. For decades, California’s fire departments relied on this codified system of neighbors helping neighbors, but there have been concerns that the explosive, dynamic nature of fires has overwhelmed our current mutual aid system.

In 2018, multiple fires across the state of California consumed local and state firefighting resources. The Woolsey, Camp and Hill fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres of land and destroyed thousands of structures, with the Camp Fire being one of deadliest and most destructive fires in California history. Calls for mutual aid were largely unanswered.

Chair Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) and members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management will seek testimony from our fire professionals and state agencies on the future of mutual aid and how to fortify this “neighbors helping neighbors” system.

Where: California State Capitol, Room 126

When: Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

Who: Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management

  • Assemblywoman Christy Smith, Chair
  • Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry
  • Assemblyman Heath Flora
  • Assemblymember Adam Gray
  • Assemblyman Tom Lackey
  • Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez
  • Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez
  • Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Vice Chair
  • Senator Patricia Bates
  • Senator Bill Dodd
  • Senator Cathleen Galgiani
  • Senator Mike McGuire
  • Senator Richard Pan

CONTACT: Danni.Wang@asm.ca.gov or 661-286-1565
Marly.Young@sen.ca.gov or 916-651-4019

STATEMENTS

Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management: “The sharing of essential firefighting equipment, personnel and resources has been essential to our practice of fighting wildfires in California. The new normal, however, is we have a year-round fire season, with dynamic mega fires occurring simultaneously throughout the state — we saw this especially in 2018 and again in 2019. Calls for mutual aid went unanswered, and it is important to hear the frustration and concerns from our fire chiefs, CAL FIRE, and other state agencies to make appropriate decisions about allocating resources, updating technology and improving coordinated efforts.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management: “California’s world-renowned mutual aid system is a critical part of our state’s firefighting response. But with the growing intensity and frequency of our wildfires, that system is under significant pressure. This was clear in November 2018 when the Woolsey, Camp and Hill fires all broke out on the same day across our state. As we prepare for the next wildfire season, California must take a closer look at our mutual aid system and examine what improvements should be made to ensure our communities have the resources they need during an emergency.”

Assemblywoman Christy Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.