Feb 19, 2020

Statement from California Professional Firefighters President on LAO Analysis in CAL FIRE Staffing

The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) has rejected Governor Newsom’s plan to invest more resources to respond to wildfires. 

California Professional Firefighters President Brian K. Rice has issued a statement on the issue. 

“We praise Governor Newsom for his proactive plan to add 550 firefighters and invest more resources into combating wildfires across the state. The governor recognizes that climate change has dramatically altered wildfires in the last several years, bringing with it a ferocity that has claimed too many lives and homes. 

“We are living in a new normal, where a once in a career wildfire is becoming a yearly occurrence. It’s clear to every professional firefighter that more frontline boots on the ground are needed to effectively respond and protect our communities from disaster. 

“The governor’s plan recognizes that firefighters are overburdened by short staffing and what is now a year-round wildfire season. Firefighters are battling wildfires for weeks, sometimes months at a time without relief. The prolonged exposure to toxic fumes and long absences from their families will have untold physical and emotional health effects for years to come. It is unsustainable to continue battling wildfires this way.  

“The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) rejection of the governor’s plan fails to recognize the realities of today’s wildfires and the urgency required to address this new normal. Their recommendation to only hire seasonal firefighters ignores the exhaustion of the men and women on the frontlines and fails to acknowledge that climate change has caused a year-round wildfire season that is here to stay. 

“The governor’s plan accounts for the change in wildfires and sets a path forward to ensure that our communities are protected. We proudly support our brothers and sisters at CAL FIRE Local 2881 and encourage swift action to implement the governor’s plan before the next disaster strikes.”