FirstNet, Verizon Launch Dedicated Public Safety Networks

The nation’s two dedicated first responder networks are going live this week with private core services for members, representatives of both entities said.

In a news release, officials at AT&T, the service provider for the First Responder Network Authority, announced the launch of FirstNet’s core network across 56 states and territories March 27. The core network, the company said, will have a controlled introduction to a limited customer set while it is tested extensively, followed by the onboarding of more customers, likely in April or May.

Meanwhile, officials at Verizon announced the private core of their own dedicated network for public safety and first responders would become “generally available” to all members beginning on March 29.

Report on California Workers’ Comp Shows 227 Medical Providers Suspended

The California Department of Industrial Relations on Monday issued a progress report on its anti-fraud efforts, including updates on the suspension of 227 medical providers from treating California’s injured workers and the dismissal of 292,000 illegitimate liens with claims valued at more than $2.5 billion.

Worried About Being on Top of an Earthquake Fault? New California Maps Will let you Know on a Smartphone

(TNS) - It’s now way easier to find out if you live in a California earthquake fault zone.

The California Geological Survey has published an easy-to-use interactive map online — type in your address or share your location on your smartphone, and, voila, you’ll know if you stand in a fault zone.

Or, for that matter, a place at risk of liquefaction or a landslide unleashed by an earthquake.

What these three zones have in common is the risk the ground can break in an earthquake, and not just be shaken.

Facing Blame for Fires, Utility Plans 24/7 Prediction and Response Center in California

(TNS) — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. plans to unveil a sweeping set of steps to prevent wildfires or contain them when they erupt.

The utility, whose equipment is being investigated as a potential cause of the Wine Country fires last fall, will create a wildfire prediction and response center in San Francisco that will operate around the clock during fire season. The company will greatly expand its own network of weather stations to monitor conditions, adding hundreds more this year.

PG&E will contract with out-of-state firefighters, keeping them on retainer for emergencies. And it will harden its electrical grid to better endure windstorms, replacing wooden poles with sturdier steel ones over time.

Rain Hits Santa Barbara and Ventura, Calif., Counties as Residents Prepare for Potential Flooding and Mudslides

(TNS) - Rain continued to soak Santa Barbara and Ventura counties Wednesday afternoon as residents of fire- and mudslide-battered communities endured the first day of Southern California's largest storm of the season.

The storm — a vast atmospheric river of tropical moisture known as a "pineapple express" — made landfall Tuesday night and is predicted to last through Thursday.

"It's going to be steady, light rain with periods of heavy rain," said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Heavier bouts of rain will occur Wednesday evening and the following day, he said.

More School Districts Buying Active Shooter Insurance

Insurance broker Paul Marshall can count on his phone ringing in the aftermath of a school shooting.

Since the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school, where 17 people were killed and more than a dozen injured, seven South Florida school district have bought $3 million worth of “active shooter” coverage that Marshall’s Ohio-based employer, the McGowan Companies, began selling in 2016.

Fire Season Could be Bad in the Pacific Northwest

(TNS) - Wildland firefighters expect the Pacific Northwest will see another busy fire season this year with land around Yakima especially vulnerable.

“If I were to pick one place that might experience above-average fire danger, it’s the Yakima Valley and the eastern slopes” of the Cascade Mountains, said Josh Clark, a meteorologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Less rain in the winter, above-average temperatures and less mountain snow mean fires could start earlier and burn longer than a typical season, Clark said.

Are driverless cars safe? Uber fatality raises questions

Sunday marked a turning point for self-driving cars. For the first time, a car in full autonomous mode struck and killed a pedestrian.

It happened at 10 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona, where ride-hailing company Uber had been picking up passengers in autonomous vehicles for more than a year.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking her bicycle down a four-lane road and was starting to cross when the gray Volvo, operated by Uber, hit her at about 40 mph, according to local police. It's believed Herzberg was homeless. She was pronounced dead by the time she reached the hospital.

More Than 60 Deaths in Fires, Floods Exposes Weaknesses in California's Emergency Planning

(TNS) — A reckoning on public preparedness long in the making is underway in California after a year that saw unprecedented death, destruction and loss from disasters set off by extreme weather.

Though California has long experienced natural disasters tied to weather, the last year recorded a staggering human toll — more than 40 dead in wine country fires and more than 20 in Santa Barbara County mudslides.

California Needs New Laws to Boost Earthquake Safety, Assemblyman Says

(TNS) -- A Los Angeles lawmaker says California needs new statewide laws that boost earthquake safety, and wants to toughen rules on how strong new buildings should be and require cities to identify buildings at risk of collapse.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) said the bills are important for keeping California functioning after a major earthquake.

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