October 2018; one year from the 2017 firestorm. What has changed since then? Unfortunately the weather patterns and fuel moistures that contributed to the magnitude of the fires has not. Until we get some measurable rain (hopefully in November), the risk factors remain. What is different is that this year (in addition to all of our usual wildfire season preparations) funding is available to bring “pre-positioned” fire emergency resources into the area when “Red Flag” conditions meet criteria for Cal Office of Emergency Services (“OES”) approval. When the conditions exist; the “Operational Area Coordinator” (currently Assistant Chief Blake Lawson) submits a request for approval to pay for the resource to Cal OES. This October, requests were made and approved to bring in a “pre-positioned” Engine Strike Team (five engines and a leader for a total of 20-22 people) for each “Red Flag” event we have experienced thus far. (“Red Flag” conditions are designated by the National Weather Service when the weather is conducive to rapid wild fire spread). Having fire resources available for immediate response increases our chances of containing a wildfire in the early stages, provided the location of the fire is accessible. All of the engines we have requested are “Type 3” which do have off-road capability. These units would work in coordination with Cal Fire (ground and air resources) and local government fire resources during responses to fires.
Another change since last year is the PG&E “Public Safety Power Shutoff” program. PG&E initiated a power shut-off during the October 14, 2018 “Red Flag” event. The good news is, most likely, this power shut off program will not affect American Canyon residents. If you would like to learn more visit http://www.pge.com where you can sign up for notifications if you wish. The final major changes we have implemented since last year are improvements to public safety notifications. Specifically, Napa County OES now has the capability to initiate wireless emergency notifications (“IPAWS”) and will also be able to initiate “Amber Alert” (“EAS”) notifications in the near future. An IPAWS test was conducted on Oct 9, 2018.
There will also be an “Amber Alert” test in the near future. The Napa Sheriff’s Office installed new “Hi-Lo” sirens in all their patrol cars. This “Hi-Lo” siren will be utilized for evacuations only. In American Canyon specifically, the City Manager’s Office, Police Chief, and I have also implemented strategies to enhance communication of information about Police and Fire Department incidents to community members through the various social media platforms. Please bear with us if at times you feel you are not receiving information fast enough. Sometimes emergency first responders have all hands on deck during the initial response to an emergency (at least until additional resources start arriving).
We also want to remind everyone that while Nixle is an important communication tool as well, need to know vs want to know information must be balanced when using the Nixle platform. Because of its importance regarding need to know information, we do not want people unsubscribing from Nixle because they are getting too many notifications that aren’t important to them, or information they didn’t necessarily want to or need to know about. Please let me know if you would like additional information and/or have any concerns. Please be safe out there!