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Barger urges county to assess LAFD air operations program

Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks at a media conference about the arrival of a pair of Super Scooper aircraft leased from the Government of Quebec, Canada. Austin Dave/The Signal

County agencies plan to assess the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s aerial firefighting resources after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Tuesday.

Barger proposed the motion Tuesday to reassess the department’s Air Operations program in light of the devastating Woolsey, Camp and Hill fires burning throughout California.

“In the aftermath of competing firestorms, which simultaneously devastated communities in Northern and Southern California, causing significant loss of life and property, we need to re-examine the department’s aircraft program to determine where expansion may be needed,” Barger said in a prepared statement. “This analysis must be broadened to look at our current partnerships with the state under the mutual aid agreement, and how resources are deployed to competing fires in various counties and jurisdictions.”

Fire experts such as L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby believe dry brush, the effects of drought, sustained warm temperatures, low humidity and Santa Ana wind conditions fueled the fires and created more extreme fire conditions than previous years.  

“In California, fire season is now year-round,” Osby said in the statement. “We are in a new normal.”  

Barger underscored that the several fast-moving fires had burned at faster speeds than ever, and such a new normal would now require analysis of what is needed to battle these types of fires more effectively.  

The report is planned for review in 90 days after the internal audit.

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