The History of FIRESCOPE in California


Following deadly wildfires in Southern California in 1970, the state of California along with Cal OES and various local fire departments formed FIRESCOPE.  

“It’s an acronym.  It stands for FIrefighting RESources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies,” explained Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.  “It includes our partners at the federal level, the US Forest Service, the National Parks Service, BLM, Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Ghilarducci continued.  

Originally based solely in Southern California, FIRESCOPE grew to include all of California and by the 1980’s the FIRESCOPE program was receiving national recognition and has been used as the model for the National Incident Management System, or NIMS.  

“To know that system has stood the test of time and the trials of over 50-years now is incredible and it’s actually being used as a national model,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Timothy Kelly.  

“With the technology we have today and the standardization of FIRESCOPE, we are able to take a fire engine and firefighters from Southern California, move them in to Northern California.  While they’re responding they have up to date information on radio frequencies, where the base camp is, who is the incident commander and all of that is truly born out of the Incident Command System which is a FIRESCOPE product,” said Cal OES Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Marshall.  “Everyday firefighters across the nation use the incident command system.  When multiple units respond to a house fire, they’re using the FIRESCOPE Incident Command System to manage their incident.  As a California firefighter, knowing that, it kind of makes you really proud to be a part of it,” Marshall continued.  

“It starts off with radio frequencies.  It could be hose fittings.  It could be how we’re going to respond.  It’s now getting into digital.  How are we going to share information?  How we’re going to share inferred imaginary.  How are we going to coordinate our aircraft use?  We don’t all have enough of everything, so we’ve got to figure out how to use everybody’s thing as successfully as possible,” explained US Forest Service Region 5 Fire Director Robert Baird.  

“Whether it’s managing an incident by an incident management team or a fire strike team doing structure protection or a swift water rescue team rescuing people out of a flood, all of that is driven by FIRESCOPE and it is a phenomenal organization,” said Ghilarducci.  

More information on FIRESCOPE can be found on the Firescope website.  



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