Jackson, Santiago to Hold Hearing Monday on the Effectiveness of Emergency Alert Systems During Recent Fires

November 29, 2017
By

SACRAMENTO — In the wake of recent catastrophic fires in Los Angeles, Napa, Sonoma, and elsewhere in the state, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance, will hold a hearing Monday, December 4, that examines the effectiveness of public warning systems operating in California and whether they are adequate to keep the public safe.

The hearing is titled “Sounding the Alarm: Examining the Performance of Emergency Warning Systems in California during the 2017 Fire Season.” This hearing, the first of two scheduled this month on emergency communications, will examine the state’s patchwork of locally operated alert systems that include outdoor warning sirens, radio and television alerts, landline warning calls and mobile phone alerts in the aftermath of the recent firestorms.

“The recent wildfires that struck California were devastating to those who lost their lives and to the thousands of families who lost their homes, personal belongings and their livelihood,” said Jackson. “During a wildfire, people have precious minutes to get to safety. These hearings are critical to help us identify ways to make emergency alert systems more effective and to give the public more time to react during an emergency.”

“Like most Californians, I was devastated to see the damage inflicted by October’s wildfires. Our first responders and local officials who battled these fires for weeks are all heroes. They often work with outdated materials and equipment and still manage to make miracles happen,” said Santiago. “It’s terrible that it takes tragedies such as these to highlight the inadequacies of our state and local alert, warning and public safety communications systems. But as chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Communications and Conveyance, I’m happy to be partnering with Senator Jackson to examine California’s technological infrastructure and capabilities so that when (not if) the next disaster strikes, we will maximize our chances for positive outcomes.”

Monday’s hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the State Capitol, Room 4202. The hearing will include testimony from Ken Pimlott, director, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; Mark Ghilarducci, director, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; the Hon. Rob Brown, District 5, Lake County Board of Supervisors; and the Hon. Belia Ramos, chair, Napa County Board of Supervisors, among others.

Once finalized, the agenda will be available here. The hearing will be livestreamed here.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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