The following article was acquired from the Los Angeles Daily News website and was written by Nikie Johnson.
Woolsey fire highlights need for better preparedness for a catastrophe, report says
Last year’s catastrophic Woolsey fire overwhelmed public safety agencies, exposed problems in the state’s mutual aid system and should remind the public that everyone has a responsibility to be prepared for disasters, according to a draft report released Wednesday, Oct. 23.
The 204-page report, prepared for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, lays out 155 findings of successes, failures and challenges from before and during the “epic” fire, and offers 86 recommendations for government and the public to improve disaster response. Before the report is finalized, there will be a public comments period and two community meetings in Agoura Hills.
The report by consulting firm Citygate Associates of Folsom was commissioned by the Board of Supervisors.
On Nov. 9, dispatchers received about 1,800 more calls for help than usual from neighborhoods threatened by the fire, the report said.
“Sometimes, by the time a unit had arrived, the caller was gone or wanted the fire engine to stay even though the situation did not yet warrant it. By informal estimates, in some threatened areas, almost half the 9-1-1 calls were not life threatening or no one was found upon arrival, significantly impacting the ability of very limited fire units to engage in life safety and structure defense operation.”
The report said that many residents were therefore understandably frustrated that they weren’t seeing the large firefighting response that they expected based on previous experience.
As increasingly severe fires burn across California, stretching the capacity of the mutual aid system, the report warns that the public may have to reset expectations.