WHEREAS, sixty percent of California is experiencing severe fire conditions, creating a more dangerous fire season than last year; and

WHEREAS, the combination of unusually low precipitation and extremely dry fuel significantly increases the risk of larger, more intense and destructive catastrophic wildfires; and

WHEREAS, California has already experienced 2,298 wildfires in 2002, accounting for almost three times the acreage burned by this time during the 2001 fire season; and

WHEREAS, the Palmer Drought Severity Index shows that the entire south state is already in an "Extreme Drought", the entire coast and North State are in "Severe Drought", and all long-range forecasts indicate that this trend will only get worse; and

WHEREAS, actions taken during last year's fire season resulted in 46% fewer acres burned than the five-year average saving the state emergency fund between $15 million and $55 million during the 2001 season; and

WHEREAS, the increased risk of catastrophic wildfires throughout the state threatens the lives, property and economic well-being of the people of the State; and

WHEREAS, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) has already taken significant actions in anticipation of the increased fire danger, including declaring fire season early, deploying maximum staff and accelerating maintenance of firefighting aircraft and equipment; and

WHEREAS, the number of large and damaging wildfires in California requires additional fire suppression efforts and resources; and

WHEREAS, the South State Contract County fire organizations (i.e., Ventura, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Barbara) will benefit from augmented CDF resources by the provision of increased regional capacity to assist with suppression of wildland fires on State Responsibility Areas (SRAs) within the Contract Counties, thus lessening the burden on local County fire resources;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GRAY DAVIS, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue this order to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED that CDF shall secure and deploy additional resources as needed to protect the safety of persons and property from wildfires during the 2002 fire season as follows:

  • Assign a minimum crew of four firefighters to 88 CDF units in the following counties: Fresno, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare;
  • Assign a fourth firefighter as directed by CDF to the 76 State-funded fire engines stationed within the Contract Counties of Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura;
  • Place back into service ten refurbished fire engines to be staffed with a minimum crew of 4 firefighters to increase CDF fire engine resources to assist with suppression on SRAs in the Contract Counties of Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura;
  • Staff an additional four CDF Conservation Camp Fire Crews in the Southern portion of the State;
  • Activate and staff ten fire lookout towers in the Northern portion of the state;
  • Lease, staff and deploy a medium helicopter to Southern California-base in San Diego County.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that CDF accelerate Fire Safe Clearance Inspections by utilizing every second fire engine for inspections when not engaged in fire fighting operations.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Director of CDF shall issue a proclamation restricting all open burning in State Responsibility Areas.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the California National Guard prepare its fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and pre-position ground support equipment as appropriate for immediate response to major wildfires and report to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) weekly the status of all aircraft.

that the California Department of Corrections and the California Youth Authority place the highest priority for assignment of level one inmates and wards to staff Conservation Camp Fire Crews.

that the California Conservation Corps report to CDF daily the status of all its crews for response to wildfires.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that OES review appropriate State departments to assure preparedness for response to wildfires.

that CDF and OES work closely with federal, state and local government agencies, bordering states, and the government of Mexico to maximize California's fire prevention and fighting capabilities.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this order be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this order.