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Station fire's effects still smolder

Community called 'more ready than ever,' should another disaster strike.

August 24, 2011|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

“It’s certainly possible that if they had a night-flight capability, that the fire could have been put down in the first day or two,” said Schiff.

Schiff said he was upset that that Forest Service wasn’t moving fast enough to address these concerns.

“Appallingly, two years after the Station fire they still have not issued their report as to whether they need to once again do night flights,” said Schiff. “We could have another brutal fire season and the Forest Service would be utterly unprepared.“

L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Bill Niccum said that by instituting a new unified command policy last spring, the fire department had helped alleviate this issue.

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“No matter where we are in the forest, if [a fire] threatens L.A. County, then we go into what we call unified command,” said Niccum. “If we’re in unified command and there’s a threat to our community, we can fly at night.”

Niccum said that the fire department has also worked to improve its coordination with the Forest Service.

“We really did a shakedown of our incident command system so everybody knows everybody’s role and responsibilities and communications,” said Niccum. “Our ability to co-manage large, complex, challenging wildland incidents has proven a model for agencies across the nation.”

Spence said that the last two years have brought a new level of preparedness.

“Being the mayor five times, I’ve seen these disasters come and go,” said Spence. “And I would say that we are probably more ready now that we’ve ever been for a fire disaster.”
 
 

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