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Public Safety

San Diego County Supervisors OK 5-Year Firefighting Plan

Fire crews battle the Gate fire in Jamul in San Diego's East County, May 21, 2017
Cal Fire
Fire crews battle the Gate fire in Jamul in San Diego's East County, May 21, 2017

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formally approved a strategic, five-year plan that focuses on better firefighting and medical services in unincorporated areas.

The board voted 4-0 — Supervisor Greg Cox was absent — to approve the plan, which has several objectives, including:

— supporting the health and professional development of San Diego County Fire's employees;

— strengthening public safety and emergency response to protect the public;

— providing organizational and fiscal support to the San Diego County Fire Authority; and

— helping people and unincorporated communities prepare for disasters before they occur, while also helping them better cope deal with the aftermath.

“We've got to start looking at from a new lens,” Cal Fire San Diego Chief Tony Mecham said. “And that's not just responding to fires but we have to start preparing communities before that fire occurs.”

That includes doing more inspections to make sure homes have a defensible space. This summer was unusually slow for wildfires but that could change at any moment, he said.

“We're at that critical phase though,” Mecham said. “As we get into the fall months we're really dependent on the Santa Ana winds. If we have Santa Ana winds we're going to have a heightened fire threat

Dry and strong Santa Ana winds are known to cause large wildfires in San Diego County.

Board Chair Dianne Jacob said the plan shows the county is "not resting on our laurels."

"We're moving forward into another level of higher preparedness -- not just for fire, but for any disaster that may occur in the region," she said.

Jacob said that over the last 10 years, the county has spent $500 million on being better prepared.

She praised Chief Fire Warden Ron Lane; Herman Reddick, San Diego County Fire program director; and Mecham for their efforts in creating the plan.

San Diego County Supervisors OK 5-Year Firefighting Plan
Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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