Arcadia Fire Department

Employing Data to Defend Arcadia from the 2020 Bobcat Fire

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Barry Spriggs

Deputy Fire Chief

Location

Arcadia, CA

Response Area Population

59,000

Personnel

53 Professional Firefighters

Q&A

Preparing for the Worst

First Due

When preparing for a wildland fire, what critical pieces of information do you need?

Deputy Fire Chief Spriggs

What we need is an accurate real-time map of the fire progression, a list of residents that have any access and functional need issues that make them particularly vulnerable, and our pre-established evacuation and structure defense zones.

In Years Past

First Due

Before First Due, how readily available was this information and how actionable was it in the field?

Deputy Fire Chief Spriggs

Before we were running on First Due, we did not have an Access and Functional Needs list. In years past, we didn't have our Fire Progression maps available to all companies operating at an event like a major wildfire. Likewise in our city Emergency Operations Center, we didn't have the ability to view the same up-to-the-minute Fire Progression information or map out the locations of our more vulnerable residents that would require special attention.

Before we were running on First Due we did not have an Access and Functional Needs list.

Before we were running on First Due we did not have an Access and Functional Needs list.

Defending Residents With Community Connect

First Due

As the Bobcat Fire approached Arcadia, how did AFD utilize Community Connect to keep a handle on at-risk residents?

Deputy Fire Chief Spriggs

We first went in to First Due and used the Occupancy Organizer to view a concise list of addresses that housed our at-risk residents and then provided this list to our partners in Law Enforcement as they were putting together their evacuation plans.

With Community Connect, Arcadia was able to better understand where our most vulnerable people were housed, and we were better prepared to act quickly in ensuring their safety as the fire intensified.

"With Community Connect, Arcadia was able to better understand where our most vulnerable people were...."

"With Community Connect, Arcadia was able to better understand where our most vulnerable people were...."

Consolidating GIS Data in First Due

First Due

Fire Perimeter, MODIS / VIIRS Hot-spots, residential occupancies - there are so many pieces of geospatial information to keep track of during a major incident. What role did First Due take in helping this process?

Deputy Fire Chief Spriggs

MODIS and VIIRS layers in GIS are up-to-date information made available by the folks at NASA to understand through high-tech thermal imaging what areas are showing spikes in abnormal heat and where the fire has most likely spread. In conjunction with Fire Perimeter data from other sources, we're able to gain an accurate real-time picture of what we're dealing with.

Next, we overlay these critical maps on top of our base map that we work in week-in, week-out in First Due that contains our Pre-Incident Plans both on our target hazards and for residential occupancies. By having all of our mapping data in one place, we were able to quickly brief companies in the field with accurate information and brief our city staff with the same mapping data in the EOC.

How First Due Made a Difference

First Due

How did First Due make a difference during the Bobcat Fire?

Deputy Fire Chief Spriggs

Having an accurate map was huge when deciding how/where to place resources for all agencies involved in response to the event - our personnel, Local PD, and City Officials in the EOC. Early on, it was determined that we needed to take advantage of Arcadia-specific GIS layers and wildfire-specific GIS layers to make sure we can utilize our computers and tablets in the command post and Emergency Operations Center so that we can stay current with the Fire Perimeter and best understand how it can impact our city.

"Having an accurate map was huge when deciding how/where to place resources for all agencies involved in response to the event..."

"Having an accurate map was huge when deciding how/where to place resources for all agencies involved in response to the event..."