Following the wildfires in 1970, Congress provided funding to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to develop a system for improving the Southern California fire service coordination on multi-jurisdictional incidents. This effort became known as “FIRESCOPE” (FIrefighting REsources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies). Federal (USFS), state (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection [CDF]) and local fire services (the city of Los Angeles, and the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Orange) joined together to design, develop and implement the program to serve as a prototype for national application. Local public fire agencies were represented by the State Office of Emergency Services - Fire and Rescue Branch. The success of the system has resulted in its use for all types of emergency and non-emergency events nationally and internationally.

The primary product of FIRESCOPE was the development of the Incident Command System (ICS) that consists of the following components. Other products produced by FIRESCOPE include:

  • Common terminology
  • Common organizational structure
  • Modular basis for organizational development
  • Written or oral action plans with objectives
  • Integrated facilities
  • Integrated communications

Other products produced by FIRESCOPE include:

  • Multi-Agency Coordination System (MACS)
  • Interagency communications
  • Map system
  • Infrared monitoring
  • Micro-weather monitoring
  • Fire spread modeling
  • Funding

Since FIRESCOPE was initiated, there has been a formal decision-making organizational structure and procedure. This decision-making process has been a key factor in getting change implemented by involving all levels of the fire service.

There has been significant accomplishment of the original and revised FIRESCOPE objectives in terms of satisfying the original program objectives. The FIRESCOPE program has continued its mission with limited funding to now incorporate all-risk components of ICS. The primary area that remains in a dynamic state is the technology components and their inclusion into organizational and field use.

Further information, mission statement, vision and the history of FIRESCOPE can be obtained by visiting the FIRESCOPE web site.



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