PREPARE ... LEAVE EARLY ... FOLLOW EVACUATION ORDERS
The following joint statement was issued today by FIRESCOPE and the Governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Task Force, The two groups consist of local fire chiefs from throughout California, the CAL FIRE director and officials from federal agencies, along with organizations representing rank-and-file firefighters.
The preeminent duty of the fire service is protection of human life. For that reason, the California fire service stands united in the position that early evacuation in the face of life-threatening wildfire is the single most important thing any homeowner can do to protect lives.
The guiding principle of California's approach remains consistent and unwavering: Prepare your property, leave early, and follow all evacuation orders.
The fire service continues to study a variety of ideas and initiatives to enhance the protection of property, including supporting residents in returning to their property as quickly as possible. We also understand the need to find ways to assist those who are unable or unwilling to evacuate in a timely manner.
As a profession, the fire service is anxious to work cooperatively with individual communities, homeowners, local government, media, law enforcement and local, state and federal fire officials to build a fire-safe future. However, any consideration of the Australian so-called "Leave Early or Stay and Defend" policy would be irresponsible at this time in light of the tragedy in Australia, as well as California's own experience responding to firestorms.
Given California's ever-present risk of catastrophic wildfire, any fire protection plan must include a determined and forceful commitment to all available fire prevention strategies. In particular, it must recognize the value of building with ignition-resistant materials, maintaining a defensible space around structures, and preparing a home for the arrival of firefighters who have the experience of working under extreme conditions.
Finally, to achieve Fire Adaptive Communities, we must renew our efforts to provide the resources necessary to insure that California's emergency responders will be able to continue to protect the lives and property of its citizens.
FIRESCOPE - Chief P. Michael Freeman (L.A. County), Chair; (323) 881-2411
BLUE RIBBON TASK FORCE:
- Chief Sheldon Gilbert (Alameda Co.), (510) 618-3490
- Lou Paulson, Pres. CA Professional Firefighters (916) 921-9111