Fire Chief Warns City about Upcoming Fire Season

By Pavan Potti 

DAVIS — During the May 12, 2021, Yolo County/City of Davis 2×2 meeting, City of Davis Fire Chief Joseph Tenney warned city residents not to underestimate the upcoming fire season, claiming that weather patterns may be favorable to big fire conditions. 

Tenney also provided some statistics on previous fire seasons, resource allocation and building fire awareness for the people of the city. 

To start off his presentation, Tenney detailed how 2020 saw 1,065 fires that burned 1,726 acres of land. In 2021 already, there have been 1,788 fires that burned 13,604 acres of land burned. 

Tenney attributed this increase in land lost in 2020 to north-blowing winds (common in October) that dry out the land. The increasingly dry weather explains statistics obtained on April 22, 2021, which showed that most of the state is currently in an extreme drought. 

Tenney then moved on to discuss the allocation of resources for the department through California’s mutual aid system. Tenney used examples such as the Camp Hill and Woolsey fires to explain the typical resource allocation for California during such events. 

According to his numbers, 44 percent of resources (660 engines) come from the local government, 18 percent (271 engines) come from out of state, 17 percent (251 engines) come from California’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), 12 percent (183 engines) come from Cal Fire and eight percent (128 engines) come from federal agencies. 

Tenney also elaborated on Red Flag Warnings, which are meant to notify people in the city whenever there are harsh weather conditions. These warnings apply to areas that have been under a dry spell for over a week. In addition, the required conditions for issuing a Red Flag Warning include sustained wind with an average speed of 15 miles per hour, relative humidity of 25 percent or less and temperatures exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Fire Chief concluded his presentation by providing some goals for this upcoming fire season and how the Fire Department hopes to proceed during this time. 

Tenney claimed how his main priority has been to recognize the specific needs for the City of Davis, especially since each city has very individualized fire hazards. Tenney also expressed a desire to have a hazard mitigation plan, give appropriate evacuation information to each respective jurisdiction and provide safety messaging to educate the general public. 

In addition to the distribution of information within the city, Tenney stated that the State would be deploying cameras in low or no-population areas to serve as an early warning device.

The Chief finished up by warning people to take any type of fire seriously. Referring to the Stockton fires from a few years ago, Tenney explained how even the smallest of roadside grass fires can be moved by strong winds into residential areas, creating unnecessary and devastating impacts.  

Pavan is a third-year student studying Economics from Fremont, California.

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