California Fire Response

RCED-94-289R: Published: Aug 31, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the late 1993 California fires, focusing on: (1) federal airtankers' response to the fires; (2) the adequacy of funding for the Soil Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program to mitigate the damage from the fires; and (3) the use of California's FIRESCOPE Program as a national model for disaster response. GAO noted that: (1) firefighters used 39 federal airtankers to suppress the fires; (2) the California National Guard responded within the 24-hour readiness requirement; (3) the Economy Act provided sufficient flexibility for the use of federal funds to activate modular airborne firefighting systems, since commercial resources could not be provided in a timely manner; (4) the Emergency Watershed Protection Program appeared to provide sufficient funding for erosion prevention projects; (5) nonpriority projects are planned for completion by December 1994; (6) California has continually worked with other government entities to develop and implement well-defined emergency response procedures for recurring wildfires and has expanded the FIRESCOPE program to respond to other natural and manmade disasters; and (7) the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies already use FIRESCOPE as a model for disaster response.

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