Safety Agency to Watch Tesla Car Fire Exam Following California Incident

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a technical specialist to observe Tesla Inc.’s examination of a Model S that caught fire in California on Friday, the agency said in a statement.

The action is not a formal probe of how the lithium-ion battery pack caught fire without being involved a crash, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said. NTSB’s participation in Tesla’s review “will provide the agency with an opportunity to learn more about fires in all types of battery-powered vehicles,” he said.

California Wildfire Survivor Bills Pass Senate Committee

Four bills sponsored by the California Department of Insurance that the department believes will strengthen consumer protections for wildfire survivors have passed the Senate Insurance Committee with unanimous, bipartisan votes.

Assembly Bill 1772 would extend the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from two to three years after a declared wildfire emergency and receive the full replacement costs to which they are entitled.

2014 Napa Quake Could be Linked to Groundwater Changes, Study Shows

Research suggests the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rocked California wine country in 2014 may have been caused by an expansion of Earth’s crust because of seasonally receding groundwater under the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

The vineyard-filled valleys flank the West Napa Fault, which produced the quake that killed one person, injured several hundred and caused more than $500 million in losses.

WCRIB: California Workers’ Comp Written Premium to be Down Again This Year

Lower workers’ compensation rates in California will bring down written premium once again this year, according to a forecast from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau.

That revelation is expected in a full report on the state of California’s workers’ comp system is due out in about a week, but David Bellusci, WCIRB executive vice president and chief actuary, gave a rundown of what to expect during the group’s annual conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

Three Emerging Technologies with Life-Saving Potential

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2017 was the most expensive year on record for disasters in the U.S., estimating $306 billion in total damage. The FBI also reported 2017 as having the most incidents and the most people killed in any one year by active shooters.

With this rise in crises across the United States, data and technology have an increasingly important role in improving emergency management departments across the country. Approximately 240 million calls are made to 911 in the United States each year, with at least 80 percent coming from wireless devices, yet many emergency management systems still operate on legacy systems made for wireline phones. As a result, people in need are unable to easily share precise locations or send media messages to responders, making emergency communication and resource coordination more costly and difficult.

Downed Power Lines Sparked Deadly California Fires, Investigation Shows

A dozen wildfires that burned thousands of homes in California’s wine country and killed at least 15 people last October were started by Pacific Gas & Electric power lines and utility poles, state fire officials said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released its investigation Friday for some of the wind-driven fires that ravaged Mendocino, Humboldt, Butte, Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties.

Scooters Take Hiatus From San Francisco’s Busy Streets

San Francisco’s scooter revolution is officially on hiatus.

Lime, Bird, and Spin, startups that have delighted and infuriated San Franciscans with their scooter-sharing services, have pulled their vehicles from the streets while they apply for permits to operate. The process for allowing scooters was established soon after the companies began operating without explicit permission from city officials this spring. Lime told its users it hoped to be back on the streets within weeks.

California Legislators Said to Consider Wildfire Relief Fund to Help Utilities

California lawmakers are said to be considering a proposal to help utilities shoulder billions of dollars in potential liability costs while offering relief to wildfire victims by setting up a compensation fund that would be backed by the state and the power companies.

Details, including the size, are still being worked out and the proposal – one of a number of options being considered – may not come together, according to people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified because they aren’t public. The fund could issue bonds, with the payments potentially provided by utility shareholders, ratepayers and revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program or general fund, the people said.

California Worker’s Comp Directors and Officers Cleanup Law Takes Effect July 1

A new law that enables corporate directors and officers owning at least 10 percent of a business to opt out of workers’ compensation coverage goes into effect on July 1.

The law is intended to reduce the threshold of ownership, and is part of an effort to help eliminate workers’ comp fraud. Under the new law, directors and officers who want to opt out of worker’s comp must sign a waiver stating that they are covered by a health insurance plan.

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