On-Scene with Woolsey and Hill Fires Incident Commander Kendra Bowyer; Debris Removal Progress

March 5th, 2019

Kendra Bowyer is the Incident Commander for the Woolsey and Hill Fire debris removal operations in Southern California. She has served in many other capacities in nearly a dozen previous debris Removal operations for the state of California since 2015.

Kendra Bower was hired as an Emergency Services Coordinator with CalOES in early 2018 following six years of emergency management in the private sector. She specializes in recovery and wildfire debris removal. Kendra loves the work she does because she feels that this is a way to truly give back to society, by helping those in need at a most crucial time in their lives. As a young adult, Kendra lost her childhood home in a tornado so, needless to say,  her passion and love for this work is directly influenced by her personal experience.

Links

Nearly 120 Properties Cleared of Woolsey, Hill Fire Debris

For more information in Los Angeles County, visit lacounty.gov/LACountyRecovers or call 1-626-979-5370.  For more information in Ventura County, visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org or call 1-805-504-7869.

 

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Podcast #58: First Chat with New Cal OES Fire Chief Brian Marshall

February 19th, 2019

Photo of Fire Chief Brian Marshall

February 4, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Director Mark Ghilarducci officially swore in Brian Marshall as the new Fire and Rescue Chief. He was appointed to his new position in December.

Chief Marshall spent the previous six years as the fire chief and director of emergency services at the Kern County Fire Department. He served in several positions with the Kern County Fire Department since 1987, including interim fire chief and director of emergency services, deputy fire chief, fire battalion chief, fire captain, fire engineer and firefighter. He is also a member of FIRESCOPE and oversaw numerous disasters throughout central California, including the Erskine Fire in 2016.

Chief Marshall will be replacing Kim Zagaris, who announced his retirement in 2018. Zagaris was appointed as the Fire and Rescue Chief on April 1, 2001.

Prior to his appointment, Chief Zagaris was the Assistant Fire Chief for Cal OES with assignments in Region I, II, III, IV and V since 1987. He started his career as a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) seasonal firefighter in 1977 and promoted through the ranks of the local, state and federal fire agencies to the State Fire and Rescue Chief. His extensive background in fire service, emergency management, and homeland security included working with local, state, federal and international agencies over the last 40 years.

Upon learning of his appointment, Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall said "I’m going to miss Kern County, working with the citizens and working for the citizens of Kern County.”

He will focus on preventing statewide emergencies in his new position. He has worked in the department since 1987, nearly 32 years. “It’s not been 32 years, it’s been a lifetime," he said. “I want to go to Sacramento and protect the state," he said. "I am just so excited about the opportunities that exist in Sacramento right now for me and my family. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.”

Links

Marshall Sworn in as New Cal OES Fire Chief

VIDEO: Cal OES Director Gets First-Hand Look at Erskine Fire in Kern County

RAW VIDEO: Erskine Fire Burns Through Communities Near Lake Isabella

Erskine Fire Podcasts

The Erskine Fire: Beyond the Lines

Sobering Aerial View of Erskine Wildfire Destruction in Kern County

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CALFIRE’s Mike Mohler Indicates Paradigm Shift in the Wind for Wildland Fires in California Following Historical Disasters

January 29th, 2019

Mike MohlerIn this episode (# 57) we talk with Mike Mohler, Deputy Director of Communications for CALFIRE. In his current role, as well as his prior position as Battalion Chief at Southern Region, Mike has worked many of California’s biggest wildfire disasters, historical ones at that.  He talks about why there is no longer a “fire season” and how wildfires really are different from those just a few years ago. He discusses the challenges fire agencies have with the numerous factors contributing to year-round fires including fuels, drought, tree mortality, climate change and wildland-urban interface. He also addresses wildland management, the importance of Firewise communities, local government and community engagement, defensible space and thinking completely differently in order to mitigate future deadly mega-fires, and so much more.

As mentioned, Mike Mohler is currently the Deputy Director, Communications, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Mohler began his fire service career in 1991, as a reserve firefighter in Orange County, assigned to the heavy equipment and crew division. 

While working as a reserve, he attended the Santa Ana College fire science program and worked full time as a firefighter for Boeing’s Aeronautics and Missile Systems Division in Anaheim. Mike began his career with CAL FIRE in the San Bernardino Unit as a Firefighter I in June 2000. 

In May 2001, Mike promoted to Firefighter II in the Riverside Unit and in 2005, he promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer. In 2010, Chief Mohler promoted to Fire Captain in the San Diego Unit.  In 2015, he promoted to Battalion Chief at Southern Region, where he worked for the next 3 years supervising the Southern Region information and communications programs. Mike was vital in continuing to build the Department’s nontraditional media exposure with projects such as Netflix’s Fire Chasers and Extreme Weather with National Geographic which has showcased our department worldwide.

Chief Mohler participates on several statewide cadres and working groups, including S-420, CIMCI and AAIMS.  He holds several qualifications, including Advanced All Hazard Incident Commander from the University of Texas A&M, and has been assigned to a CAL FIRE Incident Management Team for over 11 years. He currently holds a seat on FEMA’s advisory committee for response to large scale incidents. In addition to his Departmental assignments, Chief Mohler has also served as an Honor Guard member for over 17 years, honoring our fallen and supporting their families. Mike is currently enrolled in American Military University’s Emergency and Disaster Management program.

Links

FIRE SAFE COUNCIL

CALFIRE

Camp Fire on InciWeb

Thomas Fire on CalFire

Woolsey Fire on CalFire

Tubbs Fire on CalFire

 

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Episode 56: Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea Talks Candidly About the Camp Fire

November 28th, 2018

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea

Sheriff Kory L. Honea

In this episode (#56) we sit down with the sheriff of Butte County, California, Kory Honea. His county, of course, was ravaged by the Camp Fire which broke out on November 8, 2018. The Town of Paradise, located within his county, was nearly completely destroyed by the fire that was stoked by 55+mile per hour gusts. Sheriff Honea is facing a death toll that could exceed 100, managing his law enforcement team as well as mutual aid and keeping his citizens safe while they're displaced from homes that were either destroyed or just can't be reached due to the town's closure.  Honea also had the responsibility of evacuating tens of thousands of people to get them out of harms way.  He talks about all that, plus some of the more challenging stresses he's faced and how he's dealing with all of the responsibility that goes along with California's deadliest wildfire disaster.

Kory L. Honea became the 31st Sheriff of Butte County in May, 2014. 
Prior to becoming the Sheriff, Honea served as the Undersheriff for nearly four years. 
Sheriff Honea began his career with the Butte County Sheriff's Office in 1993,  when he was hired as a deputy sheriff.   Prior to that Sheriff Honea was employed  by the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.

During his law enforcement career Sheriff Honea has held assignments in
corrections, patrol and investigations.  In 2000, Sheriff Honea transferred
to the District Attorney's Office as an investigator.  While at the District
Attorney's Office, Sheriff Honea promoted through the ranks to become the Chief Investigator in 2008.  Sheriff Honea held that position until his return to the Sheriff's Office as Undersheriff in 2010.

Sheriff Hone-a holds a Juris Doctorate from the Taft School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. 
He also holds an Associate of Arts degree from Butte College. 

 

Links

Butte County Sheriff

Butte County Recovers

Camp Fire Rescued Animals

WildfireRecovery.org

CalOES.ca.gov

OESNews.com

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Episode 55: Tim Walton Documents Disasters While Looking Through a Viewfinder, a Unique Perspective

November 6th, 2018

In this episode (55) we talk with veteran news photojournalist Tim Walton. He gives us a unique perspective on working with first responders during disasters, especially wildfires. Tim has also works with Cal OES, donating much of his dramatic fire footage to help supplement their own images and tell important stories that benefit the public and California communities. Some of the topics of conversation include journalist access to disaster areas, California access laws, the benefits of allowing journalists, including photojournalists, into disaster areas, safety, equipment and much more.  

According to his bio, Tim Walton has 35-plus years as a broadcast photojournalist and field producer. He has worked for all of the major networks, domestic and foreign. The majority of his assignments has been for NBC NEWS (as a freelancer,) based in San Francisco over the last 25 years. I shot and field produced ABC's American Detective (reality) and worked as a cameraman on "Cops" in the early 1990's. Other clients include CNN, ABC, CBS, CBC, APTV. His primary focus is in TV News and Documentary camera/producer assignments. He says he will travel anywhere and work any ethical assignment. He has been trained in hostile environments and advanced first aid. Tim has endured three tours in Iraq for NBC.

Tim is am also a Fire Department Volunteer Videographer (40 years) and a Cal Fire VIP Photographer and has extensive wildland fire experience . He travels with a Macbook Pro and edits with FCPX, has the latest LiveU L600 (domestic) for Live and feed services and has an HD/4K wildland stock footage library suitable for climate change documentaries and film production.

And in case you're wondering, he travels with specialty equipment that includes a camera package with a Sony PDW-700 XDCAM HD, Sony FS7 4K Super 35mm, Panasonic AG-UX1804k, Sony PXW-Z90 4K camera, GoPro, Domestic LiveU L600, HD monitors, LED light kits, full audio package, wireless, live kits, grip gear and two way radio's.

Links

Cal OES Podcasts

CA Penal Code 409.5

CA Penal Code 409.6

 

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Podcast Episode 54: From the Water in Flint to the Water in Puerto Rico with FEMA’s David Samaniego

October 23rd, 2018

 

FEMA Region IX David Samaniego

 In this episode of All Hazards we sit down with the current Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for the California Wildfires Disaster Response David Samaniego. Large portions of the counties of Shasta and Lake in the north Bay Area of California were devastated by wildfires in late July, 2018. It was declared a major federal disaster on August 4, 2018, which brought the state and federal together to manage the response and recovery operations. Samaniego came onboard as the FCO in September. Samaniego has a wealth of major disaster experience; he talks about leadership challenges in the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis as well as the response effort in Puerto Rico following the destruction of Hurricane Maria in which an estimated 3000 people died (that number was released after an independent study by the George Washington University (GWU) in July 2018, which was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico.)

Links

FEMA California Wildfires And High Winds (DR-4382)

FEMA Region IX: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, & the Pacific Islands

FEMA Puerto Rico

FEMA Michigan Contaminated Water (EM-3375)

Disaster Management Roles and Responsibilities

 

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Podcast Episode 53: Cal OES Team Returns from Hurricane Florence Assistance and Shares Experiences, Part-2

October 9th, 2018

Front Row, L-R: Andy Langolf, Drew Hammond, Carly Landry, Megan Pappas

Back Row, L-R: Anthony Zimmer, Mike Warren, Ron Williams, Mark Ackerman

  

On September 12, 2018, Cal OES deployed emergency and incident management specialists to assist with emergency response efforts for Hurricane Florence. The team arrived in South Carolina prior to the storm’s landfall and immediately began work.

The 8-person team consisted of Megan Pappas, Mike Warren, Ron Williams, Anthony Zimmer, Mark Ackerman, Andy Langolf, Carly Landry and Drew Hammond. During the two-week deployment, California personnel will use their specialized emergency management operations skills to help officials as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Florence. The eight-person Cal OES Incident Support Team has extensive emergency operations experience and has been involved in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters in California including wildfires, flooding, winter storms, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, earthquakes and drought.  Primary duties included the support of Logistics and Points of Distribution (POD) coordination in Columbia, S.C. at the State Emergency Operations Center.

In this episode, which is Part-1 of 2-Parts, each of these team members recount the experiences of their deployment, what worked, what didn’t, their objectives and how they met them despite the pressures from a fast-approaching hurricane, working in a strange place with unfamiliar people and methods and much more.

Links

OESNews.com All Hazards Page

EMAC

State Private Nonprofit Organizations Assistance Program

Emergency Management Assistance Compact

Press Releases

Press Release: California Deploys Emergency Management Team to South Carolina, Virginia to Assist with Hurricane Response, Recovery

Press Release: California Deploys Emergency Management Team to Puerto Rico to Assist with Hurricane Response, Recovery

Press Release: California Deploys Additional Emergency Support to East Coast States Impacted by Hurricane Florence

 

 

 

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Podcast Episode 52: Cal OES Team Returns from Hurricane Florence Assistance and Shares Experiences

October 3rd, 2018

 

 

Front Row, L-R: Mike Warren, Ron Williams, Anthony Zimmer

Back Row, L-R: Andy Langolf, Mark Ackerman, Megan Pappas

 

On September 12, 2018, Cal OES deployed emergency and incident management specialists to assist with emergency response efforts for Hurricane Florence. The team arrived in South Carolina prior to the storm’s landfall and immediately began work.

 

The 8-person team consisted of Megan Pappas, Mike Warren, Ron Williams, Anthony Zimmer, Mark Ackerman, Andy Langolf, Carly Landry and Drew Hammond. During the two-week deployment, California personnel will use their specialized emergency management operations skills to help officials as they respond to the impacts of Hurricane Florence. The eight-person Cal OES Incident Support Team has extensive emergency operations experience and has been involved in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters in California including wildfires, flooding, winter storms, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, earthquakes and drought.  Primary duties included the support of Logistics and Points of Distribution (POD) coordination in Columbia, S.C. at the State Emergency Operations Center.

 

In this episode, which is Part-1 of 2-Parts, each of these team members recount the experiences of their deployment, what worked, what didn’t, their objectives and how they met them despite the pressures from a fast-approaching hurricane, working in a strange place with unfamiliar people and methods and much more.

 

OESNews.com All Hazards Page

Palmetto Software

EMAC

State Private Nonprofit Organizations Assistance Program

Emergency Management Assistance Compact

Press Releases

Press Release: California Deploys Emergency Management Team to South Carolina, Virginia to Assist with Hurricane Response, Recovery

Press Release: California Deploys Emergency Management Team to Puerto Rico to Assist with Hurricane Response, Recovery

Press Release: California Deploys Additional Emergency Support to East Coast States Impacted by Hurricane Florence

 

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Podcast Episode 51: Yosemite National Park After the Ferguson Fire

October 1st, 2018

Yosemite National Park Rangers Scott Gediman and Jamie Richards

 

According to the national Park Service, Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864 and is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias and a vast wilderness area. Recently, Yosemite is also known for its wildfires, the Rim Fire in 2013 and the Ferguson Fire in July and August of 2018.

In this episode of All Hazards, Park Rangers Scott Gediman and Jamie Richards talk about how the Ferguson Fire impacted the park, challenged them as rangers and as public affairs officers, and how they fought perceptions that the entire park was closed when in fact it was open.

Links

Experience Yosemite National Park in Virtual Reality with President Obama

NPS YouTube: YosemiteNationalPark

Mr. President Goes to Yosemite

Cal OES News

 

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International Mutual Aid to California: New Zealand Shows It’s a “Kiwi Thing to Do”

August 28th, 2018

Chief Craig Cottrill: Wellington/Chatham Islands Fire and Emergency

 

At the height of the wildfire siege across California, when 15 major fires burned, there were more than 13,000 firefighters from 18 states and two other countries battling the blazes. Those countries included Australia and New Zealand. 41 of those firefighters were deployed to the Mendocino Complex in Lake County, and 12 were assigned to the Carr Fire in Shasta County. Their roles varied and their value to the effort could not be understated. They brought a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy and will eventually return having gained a new understanding of firefighting environment, strategy and technology.

In this episode of All Hazards, we sit down with Chief Craig Cottrill, of the Wellington/Chatham Islands Fire and Emergency, New Zealand.  Hear about the challenges of being part of an international mutual aid team, the differences in how wildfires are tackled here versus New Zealand, from the technologies to the assets and strategies, as well as how Chief Cottrill manages his team and explains how Californians are similar to New Zealanders in adopting the “Kiwi thing to do.”

New Zealand's Camp at ICP in Modoc County

 

Links

OESNews.com

All Hazards Podcast

Mutual Aid Comes In From All Over State, Country & World For Largest Fire In California History

 

Thursday, August 9, 2018 Press Release

Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Streamline Cleanup and Recovery in Communities Impacted by Wildfires

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to cut red tape and help streamline recovery efforts in communities impacted by the devastating wildfires that continue to burn in Lake, Siskiyou, Shasta, Mendocino and Napa counties.

There are 15 major fires currently burning in California that have destroyed homes and infrastructure and continue to threaten communities. More than 13,000 firefighters from California, 17 other states, Australia and New Zealand are working the front lines of wildfires statewide.

The executive order includes provisions that:

  • Expedite debris removal and cleanup of homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed by the fires;
  • Extend the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies; 
  • Suspend planning and zoning requirements and state fees for manufactured homes and mobile home parks to help displaced residents with housing needs; 
  • Allow for the accelerated hiring of additional personnel for emergency and recovery operations; 
  • Provide waivers on temporary school facilities and outdoor physical education requirements to allow schools to open as quickly as possible; 
  • Extend the filing deadline for certain taxes for businesses in the impacted counties; 
  • Streamline contracting and purchasing rules; and 
  • Strengthen coordination between state agencies on environmental restoration in fire-impacted areas. 

Last weekend, Governor Brown announced the federal government’s approval of a presidential major disaster declaration for Shasta County and met with local leaders and fire and emergency management officials at the Carr Fire Incident Command Post in Anderson. The federal government is reviewing the presidential major disaster declaration request for Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties on an expedited basis as preliminary damage assessments continue. The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest fire in state history and remains a dynamic challenge for firefighters.

Previously, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Shasta, Lake, Mendocino, NapaRiverside and Mariposa counties due to multiple fires and secured federal aid to further support communities impacted by the Carr Fire.

Last week, Governor Brown joined the state’s top emergency management officials at the State Operations Center in Mather to provide an update on the ongoing fire fight. The State Operations Center is activated to its highest level to help local, state and federal emergency response officials address emergency management needs.

Information on additional resources for residents impacted by the fires is available at: http://wildfirerecovery.org/

The full text of today’s executive order can be found here.

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