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Santa Barbara County on Lebanese Delegation’s Fire Tour

Lebanese leaders will learn firsthand the benefits of interagency coordination in fighting forest fires.

The national committee to combat forest fires in Lebanon will tour U.S. Forest Service sites in Southern California from Friday through Jan. 13.

The tour is being organized by U.S. Forest Service International Programs and funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

International Programs works to connect the Forest Service with partners overseas to promote sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation and to address critical forest management issues such as fire coordination and response. These partnerships also allow the Forest Service to bring important technologies and innovations back to the United States.

The tour will expose a senior cadre of Lebanese decision-makers to a well-coordinated network of response centers in order to demonstrate the benefits of interagency coordination so that these leaders can develop ideas and strategies to harmonize their own operations in Lebanon.

After meeting with Forest Service leadership in Washington, D.C., the tour will move to the Southern California Emergency Coordination Center in Riverside on Friday for an orientation of the Incident Command System.

The tour will continue Saturday with a trip to the San Bernardino National Forest for a look at the Emergency Communications Center with an overview of interagency local dispatch for fire and law enforcement operations and fire prevention, detection and anti-arson programs. The group also will hear about effective interagency programs such as the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce, as well as Forest Care. The Lebanese delegation also will observe advanced firefighting techniques and equipment including fire engines with a crew capacity of five and the ability to hold 500 gallons of water.

The tour will conclude with a trip to the Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department on Jan. 13. The Lebanese delegation will tour the Tea Fire, learn about Burned Area Emergency Response and alternative methods used to reduce fuels.

The tour will expose the participants to multiple-agency coordination procedures at the national, regional, state and local levels and demonstrate coordination in action through command center tours, simulations and other activities that illustrate how agencies work together during a wildfire incident. The tour will look to facilitate discussion among the participants regarding key next steps in coordinating wildfire response in Lebanon.

John Heil is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Region.

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