California Lawmakers Resume Deliberations Over Wildfire Safety, Utilities' Response

(TNS) - When a special legislative committee held its first public hearing in response to the North Bay wildfires two weeks ago in Sacramento, there were eight major wildfires burning across California.

When the 10-member bipartisan panel met again Tuesday, the number of conflagrations had doubled, and the marauding Mendocino Complex fires had scorched more than 292,000 acres in three counties or more than 450 square miles.

Mendocino Fire Becomes Biggest in Modern California History as Weary Firefighters Brace for More

(TNS) - It’s day 11 for Omar Estorga on the front lines of California’s firestorm.

Some nights, the captain and his crew have slept — sitting up — in the seats of their fire engine as the Carr fire raged. Other nights, they’ve stayed at the base camp in Shasta County. On their days off, they’ve snagged dorm rooms at Shasta College or, if they’re lucky, a hotel room when another fire crew has checked out.

As some 14,000 firefighters wrap up their second week battling more than a dozen destructive wildfires across the state, fatigue is setting but the fires show few signs of letting up.

Amid Wildfires, Calif.’s Emergency Warning Systems Take Heat

Overnight, the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California expanded far enough to oust the 2017 Thomas Fire as the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Comprising two joined fires, the Mendocino Complex Fire has burned through 443 square miles in the area north of San Francisco. As of Tuesday morning, the fires burned more than 140 structures, including at least 75 homes, and was 30% contained.

But California’s residents and businesses still should be on alert, as the incendiary activity doesn’t end there. An unprecedented 14,000 firefighters are combating between 12 and 16 wildfires in the state, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Particular emphasis is in Northern California, where the fires in Mariposa and Shasta counties continue to threaten residents, businesses, and emergency responders. For 26 days, the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County has burned nearly 90,000 acres and caused two fatalities. The fire is having a huge impact on areas near and around Yosemite National Park, which alerted the public that it had closed all but two entrances and roads.

249 Nights Away at California Fires: Firefighter Families Cope With a 'New Normal'

(TNS) - Melissa Morgado began 2018 trying to solve an arithmetic problem: How many nights did she and her firefighter husband spend apart because of work in the previous year?

He was gone for the hot summer months, of course, and again for most of October, and then 19 more days in December when deadly fires broke out on the Central Coast.

Her tally hit 249 nights, the most she and her husband spent apart in his 14 years at Cal Fire.

Cops Wearing Cameras: What Happens When Privacy and Accountability Collide?

Police departments from Bakersfield, Calif., to Scranton, Pa., and beyond are piloting and deploying body-worn cameras (BWC) in increasing numbers, a movement happening just as privacy issues gain greater attention across the nation.

While many hold out hope that BWCs will bring greater accountability and transparency of police actions, the technology also has the potential to cut into citizens’ privacy.

New York Points The Way In Dealing With Opioid Crisis

Could medical marijuana help solve America’s opioid crisis? The state of New York is convinced that it can.

The New York State Department of Health recently began urging doctors prescribing opioids for patients with severe pain to consider medical marijuana as an alternative. The guidance was part of an emergency regulation that went into effect July 12.

The national opioid crisis on average causes 115 U.S. overdose deaths a day in the United States. New York has been focused on reducing its share of that toll. In 2016, opioids killed 18 of every 100,000 New Yorkers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York’s State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in June explained why the state is making this welcome move. “Medical marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain that may also reduce the chance of opioid dependence.”

U.S. Seeks More Cooperation with Private Sector to Fight Cyber Attacks

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said it will bolster collaboration with the private sector to defend the nation against cyber attacks by working more closely with industry to combat emerging threats.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen unveiled plans to set up a national risk management center where the government will initially work with financial firms, energy companies and telecommunications providers to help identify industry security weaknesses, develop response plans and run cyber drills.

Total Cost of Risk Declines Again

Abundant risk capital exerted downward pressure on insurance prices in 2017, resulting in a reduction in total cost of risk for the fourth year in a row, according to the 2018 RIMS Benchmark Survey.

Produced in collaboration with Advisen, the survey found that the average total cost of risk—defined as the costs of insurance, retained losses and risk management department administration—fell to $9.75 per $1,000 of revenue in 2017, a 3% decrease from $10.07 in 2016. The decline was driven by decreases in property, liability and workers compensation, as well as overall administrative costs.

Marin Firefighters Renew Prevention Pleas Amid State Crises

(TNS) - As wildfires continue to rage across California — including the deadly Carr Fire that injured three Marin firefighters last week — Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber said it’s time to remind residents to be vigilant about fire prevention.

“What’s going on through my head is that I can’t believe it’s only July,” Weber said Monday. “How in the heck are we going to make it another three months, plus?”

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