June 2019 marked the 20th year anniversary for Operation Santa Ana. Doug Lannon, a retired Cal Fire Assistant Chief from the San Bernardino Unit and current Senior Wildfire Liaison for RedZone, served as the keynote speaker to kick off the training event for this year’s inspection assignments at the Southern California Edison Inc. Training and Educational Facility.
What is Operation Santa Ana?
Operation Santa Ana was created after the Calabasas Fire in 1996. This fire burned nearly 15,000 acres and was caused by a downed tree that fell into powerlines. As a result of this fire, Southern California recognized the need for a program to inspect power lines and poles. In 1999, Sacramento Fire Protection funded the first operation dedicated to inspecting the powerlines. The operation was thus christened Operation Santa Ana and all SoCal Fire departments stepped in to support it.
Wildfire Mitigation and Prevention
Based on California wildfire data, a significant amount of fires is caused by damaged or faulty powerline equipment. These fires were not caused spontaneously but were usually caused by—or at the very least—preceded by some sort of external event. Although preventing these external events was impossible, preventing fires through inspections and mitigation measures certainly is.
Cal Fire Sacramento Headquarters and Southern Region Office funded the program for its first three years. After withdrawing funding in 2002, a large portion of Fire Units and Departments discontinued their annual inspection of powerlines—but the Cal Fire San Bernardino unit did not. The department continued its commitment to Operation Santa Ana inspecting 9800 power poles over 1,300 miles. There has not been large and damaging wildfire in the area since the program began.
Continued Commitment to Fire Prevention
As a proponent of Operation Santa Ana, Doug embodies RedZone’s commitment to providing risk management and mitigation solutions.
Training, fire management, and line & pole clearing divisions of Edison alongside executive staff attended the event. Members of Cal Fire Units and Fire Departments were also present. We commend the efforts of all members of the Forest Service and the Fire Departments and Units for their commitment to preventing wildfires.