The Orange County Fire Authority has released their after action review on the October, 2007 Santiago fire, southeast of Los Angeles. The document is 138 pages long and 7.3 Mb. The fire burned 28,517 acres and destroyed 42 structures, including 14 homes, 4 commercial buildings, and 24 out buildings.
On a quick review, I did not see any earth-shaking revelations. There were some challenges with communications (i.e. 800 Mh vs. VHF systems) but have you ever seen an AAR for a large incident that did not mention problems with communications?
Some of the recommendations:
“…aggressively pursue adoption of Very High, High, and Moderate Fire Severity Zones” on the CalFire maps.
Develop a Wildland-Urban Interface Program that includes enforcement provisions, and commit the necessary resources.
Accelerate the purchase of new helicopters, and acquire night vision capability.
Establish a full-time, year-round hand crew, a 2nd seasonal handcrew, and a seasonal fly crew.
Increase staffing on Type 3 wildland engines to include a 4th firefighter.
The second Blue Ribbon Commission Task Force in California since the fires of 2003 presented its report yesterday about how to deal with large wildland fires in the state. The recommendations include more engines, more aircraft, more firefighters, fire safe construction, and better systems for real time communications and intelligence. Many of these were in the report following the 2003 fires but were not implemented because of the state’s fiscal problems. Click here to download the 106-page report (788 KB).
Here is how the LA Times began their story on the report:
Three months after massive brush fires burned hundreds of homes across Southern California, a blue-ribbon task force on Friday made dozens of recommendations aimed at improving the response to large-scale blazes.
But many of the proposed measures are similar to those made after the devastating wildfires of 2003 — and many of those were never implemented because there was no money available.
And because the state is in a fiscal crisis, it remains unclear whether the new recommendations will fare any better. Several reports over the last decade have said California needs to increase the number of firefighting aircraft as well as boost the number of firefighters.
UPDATE: January 18, 2018. The links above no longer work, but found a copy of a 2004 Blue Ribbon Report about the 2003 fires. It is a huge 21 MB file.
The Safety and Health Working Team, part of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, on January 15 released a “Safety Gram” listing the wildland fire related fatalities in 2007.
“Nine fatalities occurred in 2007 when employees were performing wildland fire management activities. This is a substantial decrease from the 24 fatalities that were reported in 2006. Also noteworthy is the absence of any entrapment or burnover related fatalities.
Aviation – 1: Fatality occurred when helicopter was performing logistical support.
Driving – 3: Fatalities occurred when firefighters were returning from a prescribed fire (1) and training (2).
Hazard Tree/Snag – 1: Fatality occurred when a tree fell on a firefighter during chain saw training.
Heart Attacks – 2: Fatalities occurred following the Work Capacity Test (pack test) and firefighting.
Other – 2: Fatalities occurred when a dozer rolled over while constructing fire line (1) and by electrocution (1).”