Brothers and sisters
The union operation in Redding, California is going well and we are making steady progress on our objectives. The gratitude from the members and the department for the IAFF’s presence is overwhelming.
We started our work here with the following objectives:
1. Account for all members and families. Included in this effort was ensuring all displaced and evacuated member families had safe and adequate living accommodations that were not in an emergency shelter. As of 0800 today (48 operational hours) at least two members from L1934 are in need of emergency housing. Their families are with extended family and the members remain on duty. Working to secure immediate emergency housing in Redding for these members today. As of 0800 today we have 10 member homes destroyed and 2 damaged. We have confirmation on the status of over 90% of the IAFF members showing as living in the region. We are working hard to reach 100% today. We are distributing the IAFF Disaster Relief cards to all effected members in person as soon as is possible. I will continue to update cards that need to be activated.
2. Address needs around LODD. Cal-LAST was requested to assist the Disaster Operation, Local Union, Department and Family with the LODD Process. Brother Ben Dominguez from Cal-LAST arrived yesterday and is engaging on all levels. Brother Stoke is scheduled for autopsy on Wednesday August 1. Disaster Team is working with the CalFire SART to ensure the autopsy is NFPA compliant to aid in the eventual filing for PSOB. Family Liaison to Stoke family was briefed yesterday on available honors and services and they will begin the conversation with Alyson Stoke (Brother Stoke’s widow) as to her wishes and timeline. 24 hour Sentinel watch has been posted at the coroner’s office and is set to continue until internment. We have created an online sign-up tool to manage this and are broadcasting to local leaders to aid in staffing this solemn detail.
3. Peer Support and Behavioral Health. The IAFF assembled Peer Team is on the ground and fully engaged and having good effect. The Behavioral Health mission is focused on the LODD, the fire impact, the loss of member homes and lingering stress and trauma previously unaddressed. The Behavioral Health program began with a brief overview on Friday AM during a department/local all-hands meeting following Brother Stoke’s procession to the coroner. Station visits began on 07/28 and all stations and crews were met by our IAFF Peer Teams. The reception was warm and welcoming and members seem to be engaging in the behavioral health awareness process. Peer teams are providing written materials, online resources, group and one on one discussions as is needed. Station visits continue today (07/29) and are on the plan for tomorrow as well. This will allow us to visit all 3 shifts in their stations by 1800 tomorrow. A more detailed synopsis of the behavioral health status of the local will be available in the next update as well as the plan for next steps and resource needs.
4. Support for members otherwise impacted by the fire. In addition to the 12 members noted above, we have approximately 60 IAFF members evacuated or living in the evacuation zone. Operations are in place to provide generators and other needs to those choosing to remain at their home to defend it and supporting those who have other needs due to being evacuated.
5. Engage and coordinate with the Carr Incident. Members of our team have been in regular contact with the Incident Commander and his team, the incident behavioral health team, and the situation unit to monitor fire behavior and attempt to anticipate and members’ home at risk and prepare to respond to their needs and share information or resources as needed. The Carr Incident Command Team has been very cooperative and supportive.
6. California Fire Foundation SAVE Program. We are partnering with CPF and the California Fire Foundation to provide $100 SAVE debit cards to all members who’s homes were damaged or destroyed. That partnership also extends to the RFD and L1934 to provide the same cards to members of the community who lost their homes.
7. General support to L1934 and L2881. Obviously union business continues in spite of the emergency and we are closely engaged with Brothers Oliphant and Lowrey (L1934 Local President and VP) and Brother Dow (L2881 General Vice President) to cover any day to day needs for their local and members.
8. General support to L2881 Benevolent Fund. L2881 has leaders and staff from both the local and their Benevolent Foundation working in the Disaster Support Center and are consolidating efforts to ensure all IAFF members are receiving maximum support in the most efficient way possible. This partnership continues from my work in Santa Rosa and is a huge value add to the IAFF investment in supporting our members.
9. Visitors. The following leaders have visited and participated in the support effort. It is readily apparent that the presence of high level leaders in the community (especially one largely considered remote from the rest of the state). DVP Lima, CPF President Rice, L2881 President Allen, 10th Dist Burn Coordinator Feyh. CPF Sec/Tres Lopez is expected sometime today or tomorrow at the latest.
Thank you Mr. General President and Sec/Tres Kelly for your support of the operation and thank you to all of the staff for the tremendous support and quick work to get things set up here, it really is making a positive impact for our members during an otherwise dark time. The member data, maps, hotel rooms, peer support ordering, logistical support and the positive thoughts are much appreciated and we could be nearly as effective has we have been without all you are doing.
The latest tragic reminder of the dangers of our chosen profession:
Brian Hughes, captain of the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots, was killed when he was struck by a tree while fighting the Ferguson fire near Yosemite National Park. (Courtesy of Brad Torchia)