California lawmakers concerned that the state was ill-equipped to fight last month’s catastrophic Wine Country fires plan to hold hearings beginning next month to evaluate the response, including apparent shortcomings in a mutual-aid system designed to quickly rally first responders.
Numerous mutual-aid requests in fire emergencies have gone unfilled in the past few years, including many made during the critical early hours of the October fires that ravaged much of the North Bay.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and the Assembly Communications and Conveyance committee has planned hearings for Dec. 4 and Dec. 14 to examine how residents were notified and how well local and state officials responded to the fast-moving disaster that began Oct. 8, left 43 dead and destroyed nearly 9,000 homes and commercial buildings.
Many requests for help have gone unanswered in recent years. Amazingly, 134 requests for fire engines or water tenders went unfilled during the 2012 fire season. That number has climbed ever since, hitting 3,029 last year.