CAL FIRE Oroville Emergency Command Center

Submitted by Jennifer Burke

We are a team of 8 Communications Operators, 5 Fire Captains and a Battalion Chief.  We dispatch state and county resources in Butte County, California.

This past November 8th, the entire nation watched, and remained riveted for weeks as our department fought the deadliest wildland fire in California history, ultimately killing 85 residents of the small town of Paradise.  Our dispatch team pulled together to take thousands of calls just the first day alone, hugging each other, crying together, supporting each other through the trauma of the horrifying calls we were taking – even as our own personnel were evacuated and lost homes.

As we all worked hours of overtime, took tours to see the devastation, and dealt with the emotional fallout of a major event, every single member of our team stood strong and showed up day after day, to help our communities in the aftermath of the disaster.

The fire came only 21 months after our county made national news for the Oroville Dam incident – where many of our own personnel were also evacuated, but continued to report to work, endangering their own lives, directly in the path of the water, should the potential dam failure have become reality, just to continue to answer the calls from the citizens of our frightened communities.

Like every center, we have our ups and downs, our good days and bad – but I can honestly say that this team can pull it together and handle anything like rockstars – through HELL or HIGH WATER – LITERALLY!!!