County of Marin - News Releases - Wildfire Exercise

For Immediate Release
May 08, 2015

Marin Agencies Conduct Wildland Fire Exercise

‘Burning Marin’ brings together emergency staff from County and other agencies

San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services put emergency operations center staff to the test May 7 when it conducted a functional exercise with countywide partners reacting to fictional wildfires around the county.

A dozen people are shown working in the Emergency Operations Center in San Rafael during a training session.The exercise presented scenarios within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the area between developed residential and commercial areas and Marin’s open spaces. The event organizers convened at the County’s year-old Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Terra Linda and practiced with a new online interface that allows real-time communications between EOCs at the town, county and state level.

The exercise, titled Burning Marin, was designed, conducted and evaluated in line with the federal government’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. Participating agencies included the County of Marin, the City of Novato, the Novato Fire District, the City of Mill Valley, the City of Belvedere, the Town of Tiburon, and the City of Sausalito.

Participants were evaluated on how they responded to the emergency scenarios in both group and individual settings. They reacted to fictional wildland fire updates that drove urgent activity all the way up to the management level. The exercise designers simulated complex and realistic problems that required rapid and effective responses by trained personnel in a highly stressful environment.

“Practice makes perfect or at least proficient,” said Chris Reilly, the Emergency Services Manager for the County of Marin. “We have to stage these exercises periodically to keep our staff sharp and to adapt to new tools of the trade. It’s also crucial that we conduct exercises like this with our partners all over Marin. Coordination and communication is so important when the real event happens.”

Reilly said the EOS Staff was excited to fully utilize a new web-based situational awareness information sharing system, called WebEOC, during the exercise because it was only partially used in the “real life” EOC activation during the December 2014 storms.

The exercise evaluators checked local agencies’ abilities to activate personnel to various EOCs, practice warning and updating the public, work out internal communications issues and evaluate firefighting capabilities.

Learn more about how you can prepare for a wildland fire at www.readysetgomarin.org. Remember to sign up to receive emergency alerts on your cell phone at www.alertmarin.org. Learn more about emergency preparedness at www.readymarin.org

Contact:

Christopher Reilly
Manager
Office of Emergency Services

Emergency Operations Facility
1600 Los Gamos Drive
Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6584
Email: Christopher Reilly
OES website