Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Problem on the Fireline

As the tragic fires in Southern California continue to (understandably) dominate the news, here's a pice of the story that is important:

SAN DIEGO -- As this county burned, firefighters confronted a familiar reality: too few resources and not enough personnel to effectively make a stand.

San Diego officials say fire conditions Monday would have overwhelmed even a larger, better equipped firefighting force. They point to progress made in the four years since the devastating Cedar and Paradise fires, including a better communications system, more air support and an automated evacuation call system.

But little else has changed. Just one new city fire station has been built since 2003, and many of the area's chronically underfunded fire departments still fall short of national standards.

Once again, firefighters here found themselves outrun by fast-moving fires that
hopscotched the county. And the logistical challenge of moving at least 233,000 households out of harm's way proved daunting.

"We're stretched about as thin as we could possibly be," said San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman.,0,5020072,print.story?coll=la-home-center

Coupled with the lack of National Guard units available (they're busy bringing freedom to Iraq), who are supposed to be the first responders in case of disaster, it's another example of our misplaced priorities. We have gutted the nations infrastructure for the sake of tax cuts and wars. With each disaster or crisis, I'm reminded of the reasons for government and the result of our neglect. We deserve better.


RTO Trainer said...

There is no lack of National Guard units.

There are 3,000 CAARNG troops deployed overseas, about half of those in Iraq.

There anotehr 2,000 that are on duty in CA or elsewhere in the US.

There are 1700 that have been deployed for firefighting related duty (they are providing security, not fighting fires).

That means that there are still 16,300 troops available for whatever duty they may be needed for. Even if half of these re administratively unable to perform duties, that's still over 8,000 troops.

And New Mexico, Utah and Oregon are willing and able to send help if it's needed.

pygalgia said...

Thanks for the details. You may be right, but I was going on a generalization expressed by some CA. lawmakers that they felt there was a shortage.