Chief Pimlott's Monthly Message

APRIL 2014

Chief Ken Pimlott

Despite recent rain and snowfall, California continues to face unprecedented drought and critically low fuel moisture conditions. For the first time in many years, fire season did not close this winter in Southern California, and dry conditions returned to Northern California in late December. As a result, initial attack fire activity since January 1st is well above average, and we have experienced large fire activity around the State, including Humboldt County, normally one of the wettest locations in the country this time of year.  In response to these dangerous conditions, the Governor has approved a number of measures to ensure that CAL FIRE is ready to meet this increased threat and to maintain an aggressive initial attack and overall fire suppression strategy.
Many fire stations and aviation resources have remained staffed continuously in Southern California and are now moving to peak fire season staffing. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move, the Department called back seasonal firefighters in late January to staff additional fire engines in the Northern Region.  Throughout much of the State, firefighters are now preparing to staff fire engines, in some cases as much as two months earlier than normal. In addition, CAL FIRE is augmenting normal peak staffing with additional limited term fire apparatus engineers, a fourth firefighter on one third of our fire engines, as well as temporary augmented staffing for Emergency Command Centers and administrative support.
Despite the availability of these additional resources, history has shown that the fuel conditions we are facing have the potential to support extreme fire behavior and to result in large and damaging fires. With this in mind, public and firefighter safety must be the priority. I expect all of us, regardless of rank or assignment, to participate in the annual focus on safety, as well as daily tailgate safety sessions and training. We must focus on managing fatigue and pacing ourselves for what promises to be a long and challenging season. Many of you are already working extended shifts to meet the mission, and this will only be exacerbated with increased fire activity later this summer. 

Fire history repeats itself from decade to decade in California, but firefighter injuries and fatalities must not. Stay safe.

Chief Ken Pimlott

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