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Showing posts from 2020

Fixing California’s Wildfire Alert Failures Requires a New Way of Thinking, of Taking Action, of Shouldering Personal Responsibility To Save Lives

California's 2020 wildfire report likely will include scores of deaths before the last of the fires adds its acreage and fatality numbers to the total.
Since 2017, the death toll from wildfires is above 150, and the state’s historical fire season still has weeks to go as the calendar turns to Fall.CHORE insists that  many – maybe most – of those deaths could have been avoided if warnings had been easily accessible by the victims. Numerous media reports beginning with the Tubbs Fire in 2017 carried accounts of survivors’ angry assertions they received no warning.“Received” is the action word in that sentence. It’s not enough to simply transmit warnings; they must be received to be effective.Too many officials – from warning protocol planners at the State level to county sheriffs – are not committed to ensuring the public receives their alerts. If they were so committed, survivors would not complain of warning failures.A New Way of ThinkingAnd that’s where a mindset shift is desperat…

At What Point Do We Begin Holding Officials Responsible for Wildfire Deaths when They Clearly Fail To Learn from Previous Warning Failures?

Northern California wildfires raged on during the September 12-13 weekend, and newspapers duly reported on more warning failures:San Francisco Chronicle: “Wildfire warning systems by text, email, cell phone alert or reverse 911 call can’t always reach everyone in remote areas where coverage isn’t available, or when power or service cuts off. And sometimes, as happened in this season’s lightning-sparked blazes, the system can’t keep up with the speed and unpredictability of wildfires. Officials with Cal Fire confirmed that there was no evacuation warning for Last Chance, and that the evacuation order came just after 10 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door.”Let that last bit sink in: “Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door.”Is that really the alert protocol when cell phone notifications fail? Deputies go door to door?San Francisco Chronicle: As soon as Cal Fire sent word of the imminent danger, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea sent out an evacuation warning …

Wildfire History Repeats; Officials Keep Trying To Push Warnings to Residents Using Systems that Just Don’t Get It Done, Even as AM Radio Is Under-Utilized

The philosopher was right: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."   The Northern California wildfires this week are showing how right he was. 
Emergency managers continue to screw up evacuation messages to residents that are meant to save lives. From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:Sonoma County officials are trying to rectify mistakes made with its various emergency alert systems that at times this week have either gone to the wrong area or even included evacuation orders from previous wildfires.The Los Angeles Times took note of alert confusion and failures in an August 25th story headlined “California emergency alert system experiences some problems as monster fires raged” (subscription required):And then there is Sonoma County, where, unlike three years ago when the previous emergency management director failed to alert some residents of a fire at all, the department’s current leader is concerned with having alerted too many. “Using this system is …