Making a stand as we fall into the height of Fire Season

By Chief Sam DiGiovanna

This is the first week of Fall. I’d like to say that Fire Season is coming, but as we know, it’s year-round and already hit us with a vengeance. Things are about to get worse as those “devilish” Santa Ana and Diablo winds start.

As we know, Santa Ana’s and Diablos have a particularly devastating history of fanning the flames, creating some of the largest and most destructive fires in Southern California. No coincidence they’re known as the “devil winds.” 

Deja vu - Over the past few months we have sent a number of resources to Northern California; then things started going south, literally. Fast moving, deadly wildfires are reported daily. Not just in California, but in most western states and even in the Midwest. I’m certainly no meteorologist or rocket scientist, but something in our weather system is changing.  

Everyone is impacted

Regardless of where you live, wildfires impact everyone. Resources can be dispatched from every city/county in the state. Resources get stretched thin. Air quality is impacted, highways get closed, school classes get cancelled, utilities are interrupted, and it costs taxpayers millions of dollars to fight these fires.

It is not just fires that are the problem

Santa Ana winds elevate fire danger, but also cause power outages by bringing down power lines, and toppling trees. Utilities are impacted as are our homes and businesses along with street and traffic lights; there is reduction in visibility, and increases in allergy, and eye issues to name just a few impacts. It is important we educate our communities and ensure everyone is prepared!

The worst part is that many agencies are dealing with staffing issues. Covid and our current economy has hit everyone hard. State and federal wildland firefighters are understaffed. Even the fire academies are seeing low interest. The fire service job market is not what it used to be.

So, what’s the solution? One good start is educating and preparing your community. We need their help more than ever. I’m confident you already have this information, however, it’s worth sharing again.

Here are some tools to help you prepare your community: 

Ready for wildfire: https://lnkd.in/gH8FJYtH

Evacuation tips: https://lnkd.in/gB-H5Qpm

Power outages: https://www.sce.com/outage-center/preparing-for-outages and a map where power outages may be occurring: https://poweroutage.us/area/state/california

Wildfire and air quality:  https://lnkd.in/g8Tnweke

Send these out to your local media, both television and print, PSA’s, community wildfire events, volunteer or senior citizen and community organizations, anyway you can think of to spread the message. No matter where you are station, wildfires, and wind events impact everyone.

Make a stand and prepare your community. We all know “fail to plan, plan to fail!”

Mostly importantly - Be safe!

Sam DiGiovanna is a 35-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department, and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale. He also is a consultant for www.Cordico.com & www.Lexipol.com