As the wildfires in Southern California continue to burn hundreds of homes, thousands of acres, and push scores of people out of their homes, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) details the efforts they have made in fighting this natural disaster as it scorches vast areas of Southern California.
According to a press release made public on Tuesday, FEMA announced they are partnering with a number of public and private entities to help control the blazes in Southern California. With President Bush’s declaring the fire an Emergency disaster, FEMA can now begin further implementation of efforts which began this past Sunday, when federal resources were first mobilized. FEMA administrator David Paulison has also now authorized under FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program (FMAG) federal funding to reimburse any costs incurred by the State of California as these fires are battled. Says Paulison in the press release, “[t]he safety of the firefighters, individuals, and families in the impacted areas is if utmost concern.”
According to the press release, FEMA has responded to California’s fires by approving seven requests for FMAGs only hours after the state requested them. With these grants, FEMA will pay for 75 percent of the state’s “eligible fire-fighting costs.” Eligible costs include such expenses as fire-fighting equipment and supplies, and also includes the costs of providing shelters and traffic control and ordering evacuations.
As the press release states, further efforts in fighting the fires include FEMA’s involvement in identifying and establishing staging areas in Southern California for mobilizing any necessary federal emergency assets. Furthermore, FEMA opened on Monday, October 22nd, a Joint Field Office in Pasadena which will allow for coordination of federal, state, tribal, and local responses to the fires. Among these operations include a federal Emergency Response Team, which has been identified and is poised to assist the state as deemed necessary. FEMA’s Regional Response Coordination Center is now open on a 24-hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week schedule to help support California’s operations; this is identified in the press release as an “interagency” entity that includes the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, United States Forest Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Infrastructure Protection.
According to the press statement, other actions taken by FEMA in the past couple days include the activation of FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, which will organize the national federal interagency response to help the state and regional efforts and a FEMA liaison sent to the State Emergency Operations Center in Sacramento to aid California’s activities and help recovery staff compile any information about the fires as well as assist in both dispatching and receiving any of the state’s requests for further support.
“Federal Emergency Management Agency Coordinating National Response to California Wildfires.” Federal Emergency Management Agency. 23 October 2007. http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=41428