CHP dispatchers back at work after Angora Fire
October 11, 2007
Two California Highway Patrol dispatchers who mistakenly told 911 callers in the early stages of the Angora Fire that the blaze was a controlled burn are back at their posts in the Truckee communications center.
But the dispatchers, who have not been named, are likely to face some discipline as a result of their actions on June 24, said Capt. Gary Ross, commander of the CHP field office in Truckee.
“They will face disciplinary action. To what extent, I don’t know yet,” Ross said Tuesday.
Ross said he hadn’t yet received results of an investigation into the dispatchers’ actions. But Ross said he knew of nothing that would have led the dispatchers to believe there was a controlled burn in progress that day.
Meanwhile, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman said the dispatchers’ actions did not delay firefighters’ response to the fire as. firefighters in Meyers and South Lake Tahoe spotted the smoke and “self-dispatched” to the blaze, Norman said.
Ross said in July that the dispatchers’ actions had delayed response to the fire. On Tuesday, he said that was a preliminary assessment and he would have more information after receiving the report on the investigation.
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The dispatchers were removed from their positions on July 4 and reassigned out of the Truckee office, officials said in July. Last month, CHP Assistant Chief Michael Champion said the dispatchers had returned to their posts in Truckee after 60 days.
One dispatcher is a 27-year CHP veteran and the other has been a dispatcher for 17 years, Ross said.
Most 911 calls from cell phones go directly to the CHP, which has its nearest dispatch center in Truckee.
Kim Emery, communications supervisor for the CHP’s Truckee office, said the dispatch center had implemented a new controlled burn log, which includes information from the Forest Service on which days controlled burns will be taking place.
If a caller reports a wildland fire on a day when a controlled burn is not scheduled, the caller will be transferred to the appropriate fire department, Emery said. If a controlled burn is in progress that day, dispatchers will still seek additional information from the caller, Emery said.