The Bernardo Fire that started May 13, 2014 was one of the first in a series of 12 large wildfires that occurred in San Diego County during a 10-day period in mid-May. No homes were destroyed, in spite of the fact that it burned through and adjacent to dense housing developments. This was a testament to the community planning and preparedness that is evident in many areas in California.
A 72-page report has been released on the 1,548-acre fire which identified lessons learned and recommendations for change. Examples include:
- Outfit five Type 1 engines for immediate deployment during high risk wildland fire days. The engines would have all radios, pagers, MDC, EMS equipment (short narcotics) on board. Storage could possibly be within the Repair Facility.
- Purchase and make available additional radios and batteries to meet the needs of large-scale incidents.
- Direct Division/Group Supervisors to identify supply Drop Points and Staging Areas within their geographic divisions and/or functional groups.
- Increase the number of City fire/rescue medium-lift helicopters to three (3) to insure SDFD’s ability to provide aerial fire suppression and rescue.
- Request funding to hire additional brush management inspectors. A total of 22 positions are required to conduct annual inspections of the 42,505 private parcels in the wildland/urban interface within the City of San Diego. The Department currently has 6 positions dedicated to these inspections.
- Train additional Department personnel to fill all IMT, DOC, and EOC positions to a minimum three-deep roster. Consideration should be given to using non-uniformed staff for incident support positions to free uniformed staff for key skills or fire line assignments.
- Ensure that only one ICP is being utilized. One of the benefits may be that angled drafting tables, large-scale maps, and overlays would be made available by one of the other agencies in UC. Purchase and make available the drafting tables, large scale maps, printers and plotters and install in the CIMU vehicles.
- Consider including redlines and foam pro systems in future fire engine specifications.
- Consider assigning water tenders to each strike team and task force.
- Issue each individual SDPD officer their own vegetation fire PPE so that they are equipped with the necessary safety equipment upon arrival at a vegetation fire.
- Adoption of Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS) as a geospatial communications and collaborations tool should be discussed at a regional level.
- Provide display processing equipment at the ICP to include hardware and tools necessary to provide a large format, bright, clear picture for collaboration should be determined and purchased. Provide command vehicles both paper backup large format topographical or satellite maps and a digital map display solution. Ideally, a “Google Earth-like” solution on a large format touch screen monitor should be run. NICS provides the basis for this type of map display collaboration and markup. Properly paired with the correct hardware either in command vehicles or support vehicles will allow incident managers better awareness.
- Consider extending capability to track additional support vehicles (and staff) utilizing existing GPS technology tracking hardware/services.