The July 17 Tribune article regarding the fast-moving Calf Fire near Parkhill was informative, but it neglected to mention one of the most important tools that firefighters used to manage this fire in an area of historically bad fires. Cal Fire has produced pre-attack plans for many high-fire-hazard areas of the county. The plans use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify hazards and opportunities to mitigate those hazards before a fire or other disaster occurs and then to assist with managing the disaster.
The plans are developed as a two-sided foldout map. One side of these plans includes text with specific information about the geographic area with regards to climate, topology, fuel types, demographics, etc., as well as specific hazards.
The other side is a road map with key tactical locations represented, including escape routes, safety zones, radio frequency availability and lookouts.
These emergency plans were developed with the support of the San Luis Obispo County FireSafe Council (currently chaired by County Supervisor Jim Patterson) and were largely funded with grants from the federal and state governments.
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The use of these pre-attack and emergency plans increase the safety of both rural and urban residents of the county. More examples of pre-attack plans that have been developed locally can be viewed at www.calfireslo.org/PreAttack.html.