Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire Problems Were Anticipated

From various sources the number of California National Guard totals around 20 to 22 thousand. From what I can gather, roughly a third of them is federalized and deployed overseas. It seems there were warnings everywhere, all year, that this was possibly going to be a bad fire reason and that there were problems with equipment, personnel and funding.

State National Guard warns it's stretched to the limit
"May 11 - As state forestry officials predict an unusually harsh fire season this summer, the California National Guard says equipment shortages could hinder the guard's response to a large-scale disaster.
A dearth of equipment such as trucks and radios -- caused in part by the war in Iraq -- has state military officials worried they would be slow in providing help in the event of a major fire, earthquake or terrorist attack.

The readiness of the Guard has been described as a national problem and has become a political liability for the Bush administration, which came under fire this week when the governor of Kansas complained that the National Guard response to a devastating tornado in her state was inadequate. National Guard readiness has become a growing concern as the Guard has taken on extra responsibilities caused by the Iraq war and the increased threat of terrorism.
In California, half of the equipment the National Guard needs is not in the state, either because it is deployed in Iraq or other parts of the world or because it hasn't been funded, according to Lt. Col. John Siepmann. While the Guard is in good shape to handle small-scale incidents, "our concern is a catastrophic event,'' he said."

Alliance fears cuts in wildfire prevention
"April 2, 2007 - Brad Hellenthal cut down a cedar tree in the Birch Hills area of Palomar Mountain last month.Across San Diego County's fire country, an alliance of agencies has spent about $50 million to clear dead trees and overgrown brush after blazes charred much of the region in 2003.
But now, the federal fire-prevention money for their work is drying up. Priorities in Washington, D.C., have shifted to paying for national defense, cleanups after Hurricane Katrina and other needs, forestry experts say.

The group said Thursday that the administration of President Bush has proposed cutting 14 percent of the budget for a critical fire-prevention fund – one that has paid for work in San Diego County – when what it needed was an 85 percent increase.

Arnold's Katrina? Governor vetoes bills to strengthen fire departments
"June27 - As the Tahoe fire kicks off an extremely dangerous fire season, the Governor's budget-cutting has left the state's fire departments woefully short on recommended equipment and staff."
As far as Arnie's Governors Office of Emergency Services goes, it hasn't been updated in almost two years.

I'd assume there's plenty of questions about preparedness for this disaster, including the big one of why the national guard is wasted in Dim Son's overseas adventures, but you'll never see them in the reprehensible MSM. Flipping on the idiot box will show plenty of up close and personal, tear inducing human interest stories meant to tug your emotional strings, but little else besides the 'gosh darn this was so unexpected' line of thought.

One comment about the TV coverage that I've seen. I fought forest fies for several seasons decades ago. I know that in more suburban settings there will be fire trucks and hydrants. But in mega disasters like this and especially in rural and wild areas less than one percent of fire fighting involves spraying water. Almost all energy is spent digging lines, cutting trees, moving brush and other grunt work, but that's too mundane for television cameras so you'll see endless shots of hosing down flames and thrilling water drops from air tankers. Fire suppression is the hottest, grimiest, most tiresome work imaginable, I wish them the best.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.