The Forest Service and Cal Fire hosted a wildfire simulation in western Nevada County Wednesday. The purpose of the simulation was to improve interagency coordination if a wildfire were to occur. More than 50 people from many different agencies participated, including the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, Caltrans, CHP, PG&E, NID, Nevada County Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office.
“We all do our jobs well,” said U.S. Forest Service Fire Chief Jeanne Pincha-Tulley. “This exercise will give us the opportunity to mesh our roles and responsibilities to see how well we work together and to identify any new processes or protocols needed before an emergency hits.”
The simulation began with a briefing as if a fire was actually occurring. The group then broke into four separate groups to discuss command protocols, community support needs, public information processes and tactical fire suppression/law enforcement operations. Several new developments were added as the simulation progressed. These included evacuations, road closures, communication outages and loss of dispatching capacity.
After an hour’s discussion, the group got back together to share successes and lessons learned. All reported that it was a very worthwhile exercise — just getting to know the other players from many agencies was worthwhile. Other groups identified that they were able to share processes, programs or equipment to help with this type of emergency operation. Future simulations and additional coordination efforts are planned as a result of this exercise.
Westling is the public affairs officer for the Tahoe National Forest.