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The original acronym FIRESCOPE stood for "FIrefighting REsources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies." The system was developed after a bout of massive southern California wildfires in 1970, which burned for days and involved multiple jurisdictions.[1] The system was designed to create an efficient interagency resource coordination system for fire and other emergencies in the Southern California Region. The system was later expanded to provide service statewide.

System design and operation[edit]

The FIRESCOPE program originated in Southern California, organized under the acronym, “FIrefighting REsources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies” in 1972. By legislative action, the FIRESCOPE Board of Directors and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Fire and Rescue Service Advisory Committee were consolidated into a working partnership on September 10, 1986. This consolidation represents all facets of local, rural, and metropolitan fire departments, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and federal fire agencies.

Through this partnership, FIRESCOPE was established as a statewide program under the redefined acronym “FIrefighting RESources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies.” CALFIRMS (CALifornia Fire Information Resource Management Systems) in Northern California then merged with FIRESCOPE as the Northern Operations Team. Under provisions set forth by Senate Bill 27, enacted on October 2, 1989, under Health and Safety Code Section 13070, the Office of Emergency Services (OES), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and the State Fire Marshal (SFM) were commissioned to jointly establish and administer the FIRESCOPE Program.

On January 1, 2009 the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) merged with the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) under provisions set forth under California Assembly Bill 38 and became the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), renaming once again to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services or Cal OES for short.

The FIRESCOPE program is intended to complete the legislative attempt to unify these various fire agencies with one voice and direction. The group comprises diverse fire agencies per the founding legislation. The synergy created by these diverse fire agencies provides valuable input to the Secretary of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in addressing the future of fire and rescue services in California and assures excellent representation for the continued development of FIRESCOPE products.

The organization/program of the Cal OES Advisory Board and the organization/program of FIRESCOPE are to deal with mutual aid, cooperative agreements, and fire/rescue regional policy issues and to advise the Secretary of Cal OES in matters of statewide importance.

The decision-making process for these matters rest within a majority-rule process based on the size of the Board and limited discussion time; minority viewpoints are also forwarded to the Cal OES Secretary for consideration.

The FIRESCOPE program provides an effective and efficient solution to operational coordination requirements and problems of the major fire protection agencies serving the California urban-wildland complex. Major wildland fires are a common annual occurrence in Southern California with its Mediterranean-like climate which typically gives the area 4 to 6 months of almost total drought. In addition, the region is threatened with infrequent, but potentially disastrous, urban emergencies precipitated by flooding, earthquake, and fire. The FIRESCOPE program is directed towards improving the effectiveness of the close working arrangement of fire services in the area in response to any major incident, not just those involving wildland fire.[2]

The design of the program, as well as its initial development and testing was begun in 1972 by a specially chartered research development and application (RD&A) program at the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Forest & Range Experiment Station's Forest Fire Laboratory in Riverside, California. Funding for the 5-year RD&A program was provided by a special appropriation from Congress in response to concerns raised by disastrous Southern California wildfires in 1970 which burned more than a half million acres, destroying 700 structures and taking 16 lives.[3] Problem analysis was carried out jointly by Forest Service researchers and personnel from the principal Southern California fire agencies who also provided support for the system design.

The policies of the FIRESCOPE program has been implemented by federal, state and many local fire agencies in California. A major component, the Incident Command System (ICS), which provides uniform procedures for on-site command and control operations in emergency situations, was subsequently adopted for use nationwide by federal wildland fire protection agencies, and has been endorsed by both FEMA and the US Fire Administration for adoption by State and local emergency services agencies nationally.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [Fire Officer Principles and Practices: Second Edition Page 287]
  2. ^ FIRESCOPE: a new concept in multi-agency fire suppression coordination. Richard Chase, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-040, 17 p. 1980... - 19k -
  3. ^ California aflame! September 22-October 4, 1970. Clinton B. Phillips. State of Calif. Dept of Conservation, Div. of For. Sacramento, Cailf. 73 p. 1971.

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