Public Safety

County Approves Resiliency Report and Recovery Plan

Firefighter putting out fire in a grassy field.

The County Office of Emergency Services introduced new efforts to better prepare the region for a disaster, with a specific focus on wildfires.

The first is the County Resiliency Program, which analyzes existing emergency capability and response plans looking for potential gaps and solutions to further reduce risk to communities.

The County also updated the regional Operational Area Recovery Plan, a comprehensive plan involving all key partners for the restoration of essential services and economic recovery in the wake of a disaster.

Both items were presented Tuesday to the County Board of Supervisors at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa. The Board voted unanimously to accept the County Resilience Program report and the Recovery Plan update.

The County Resilience Program is an ongoing effort that will address all hazards, but it focused first on conducting a Wildfire Resilience Review since wildland fires remain the most prevalent and costly threat to the region.

“There’s no question about it, as we sit here today, we are better prepared now than we’ve ever been before, but what this (resilience) report does is, we’re stepping it up to a whole new level. The report represents the most in-depth, comprehensive wildfire analysis the County of San Diego has ever undertaken,” County Supervisor Chairwoman Dianne Jacob stated to the audience. “It includes the review and recommendations in three separate areas that have been presented, the pre-fire, the response, the recovery, and within these three sections are 16 objectives and 50 tasks which are assigned to specific county departments for follow-up and implementation.”

Planning and analysis were conducted by a working group comprised of 33 subject matter experts from the County and were supported by outside stakeholder groups including CAL FIRE, SDG&E, CalTrans, environmental groups and members of several Fire Safe Councils.

“The County is a leader in the nation in terms of initial attack capabilities,” said Gary Johnston, the County’s Chief Resiliency Officer. “However, to remain ahead and keep pace with fighting wildfires year-round, the working group recommends additional investment in multiple response-related capabilities.”

The program report contains specific recommendations not only for response but for enhancing pre-fire safety measures and recovery capabilities after a wildfire. Some of the recommended investments include updating the Fire Authority’s Wildland Prevention Plans, keeping a large airtanker based at the Ramona Airport and upgrading first responders to a P25 Digital Mobile Radio System.  All objectives and tasks will be tracked and assessed to ensure accountability and timeliness.

One of the focuses of the update to the Operational Area Recovery Plan is developing relationships among emergency planners, community organizations and businesses so they can respond more rapidly  after a disaster. Community stakeholders include The American Red Cross, Economic Development Councils, Chambers of Commerce, SANDAG, hospitals and healthcare centers, and Access and Functional Needs advocacy networks.

The Recovery Plan is important because even after a Presidentially declared disaster, assistance received from state and federal agencies cannot fully fund the recovery of a community, city or county. The plan lists options that can help augment recovery.

As a follow-up to the wildfire resilience program, Chairwoman Jacob requested that staff prepare a report on the County’s community evacuation capabilities and community fire protection plans to present to the Board in 60 days.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact