A change may be in the wind for multiagency firefighting efforts with new legislation proposed by Pasadena Congressman Adam Schiff.
The measures would require the U.S. Forest Service to lift a decades-old ban on nighttime and aerial firefighting, a cause Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich has been supporting with extra vigor since the fatal Station Fire of last fall.
“The Forest Service’s flawed policy prevented the early extinguishment of the recent Station Fire,” said Antonovich. “As aircraft sat idling on the tarmac, the fire grew out of control — taking the lives of two firefighters, burning over 160,000 acres and destroying over 100 homes and structures.”
In a series of letters to Federal officials and a motion unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors in the days and weeks during and after the fire, Antonovich called for a Congressional investigation into the Forest Service actions, the repealing of the policy banning nighttime flights, the adoption of a 200-foot brush clearance requirement, the use of mechanized clearance equipment and shifting incident command from Washington D.C. to personnel on the ground.