CUPERTINO, Calif. (KTVU) - Global climate change could make fire seasons more severe, and loss of critical technology more frequent, according to some fire officials. However, one Bay Area county is the first to secure funding for new equipment to help first responders in the event of catastrophe.
In the case of natural disasters, first responders depend on communications infrastructure to warn the public, and plan their response. However, such equipment can be destroyed, leaving everyone more vulnerable. Santa Clara County leaders say the MOSES system will serve as a lifeline when lives are threatened.
Monday, Santa Clara County officials announced they’ve taken a step in solving potential communications crises in the event of wildfire, or any other natural disaster.
“We have been able to secure from the state of California, four million dollars for technology with respect to the MOSES program,” said Assemblyman Evan Low, (D-San Jose) who represents the 28th District.
Local and state political leaders gathered outside a Santa Clara County fire station in Cupertino to reveal a seven-figure check for the purchase of two MOSES systems.
November’s Camp Fire not only destroyed critical communications infrastructure, it also burned 240 square miles, destroyed nearly 19,000 structures, and cost 85 people their lives. County officials say since then, their constituents have had one question on their minds.
“They wanna know what’s gonna happen when there’s a fire? How it going to be responded to? And what’s gonna happen if cellular towers go out?,” said Dave Cortese, (D-San Jose) the 3rd Dist. Representative on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
The MOSES system is one answer. Mounted on the back of a five foot-by-eight foot trailer, each MOSES uses satellite to establish a wifi and mobile signal bubble with a 35-mile radius. Set-up time is just 15 minutes, time that first responders say can mean the difference between life and death.
“This technology will provide help bridge that gap should we experience an infrastructure failure in our communications regardless of event,” said Chief Tony Bowden of the Santa Clara County Fire Dept.
“Excellent reliable communication, diligent preplanning and a coordinated system of response are the foundations for saving lives and properties," added Board of Supervisors Dist. 4 representative, Susan Ellenberg (D-Santa Clara County).
The systems are on order, but won’t be available until the end of the year – after the current fire season has ended.
Still, Assemblyman Evan Low says this is the first step in a process to keep Santa Clara residents safer should the worst happen.
“This is not the be-all and end-all. This is a step in the right direction in insuring that we have continued communications when we have such disasters that occur,” said Low.
While Santa Clara is the first county in the state to have this technology, it’s not solely for use in the South Bay. Because of the state mutual aid system, if there’s a disaster in another part of California, this equipment can be moved easily into place.