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17.4.04

California Wrapup

Let me sum up what I've found with regard to the California Governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Commission report (enormous pdf):

* The emphasis that Chairman Campbell and the news stories place on environmental requirements hindering fire safety is not borne out by the report or by the GAO study they cite.
* The major problem with the fire safety situation in southern California, according to the report, is poor coordination and planning -- between agencies, between levels of government, between administrative and legal codes, and between government and the public.
* The report shows evidence that clearing "defensible space" and using fire-safe construction techniques can greatly help to reduce the potential for damage to property. However, there are suggestions that public education and the implementation and enforcement of standards are lax. This is largely a matter of private fuels reduction, not public projects of the type surveyed by the GAO.

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