Los Angeles area is prone to identified manmade and natural threats of about 13 out of 16. According to Cannon et al (2007), particularly Los Angeles is vulnerable to destructive effects of wildfires. Due to the many threats that the area of Los Angeles faces, the significance of the readiness of the residents and as a city cannot be overstated. The part of disaster preparedness is to be aware of different forms of disasters and hazards the city residents can be subject to when living.
Description of the critical data required for an effective risk assessment for Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, fire is one of the hazards extremely powerful. The poisonous gases and the heat from the fires are more deadly compared to the flames. According to Westman et al (1975), the structural or residential fires in Los Angeles area as well as wildfires form part of the everyday lives of the residents. That is why it is of great importance to have a plan which is familiar, should fire occur.
In Los Angeles, The third leading accidental deaths causes at homes are the residential fires, with property losses annually estimated to be billions of dollars. Careless smoking, cooking, fault heating and arson are mostly the cause of home fires. Many fire related damages and deaths are avoidable with proper residential sprinklers or smoke alarm system (Smith, 2004).
The wind conditions in Los Angeles that are unpredictable and cause dry hillsides and dense brush and canyons. Cannon et al (2007) further points out that this area are prone to quick busting of flames that can result into deadly wildfires or brush fires. Moreover, the fires can spread at an incredible speed with their heat rising to thousands of degrees. Gordon et al (1987) suggests the critical data needed for effective risk management in Los Ageless. They include:
- Fire causes more deaths than all other combined natural disasters to the Americans annually
- Careless smoking is the main cause of deaths which are fire related.
- The main cause of home fires is cooking in united states
- Each year, about two million cases of fires are reported with more thousands going unreported
- During droughts, falls and summer, wild fires are common when leaves, branches and related material dry out resulting to susceptibility of things catching fire.
- Sources of information on wildfire hazard profile hazard
The extent of wild fire locations which will occur cannot be shown in wildfire hazard maps because each location of fire depends of the available fuel, wind direction and speed, weather conditions at the time of the fire occurrence.However, maps of wildfire hazards can show the geographic location where wild fire took place and the prone areas based on the weather conducive and fuel availability to fires (Smith, 2004).
2) Fuel model maps
The fuel model key obtained from National Fire Danger Rating System as a guide in classification of fuel model determination. The key shows the wild fire fuels from Alaska to Florida and from California to east coast. Therefore, general descriptions are provided in the following categories as observed by Westman et al(1975):
- Heavy fuel are round wood vegetation of 3-8 inches in diameter
- Medium fuel is a round wood vegetation of 1/3-3 inches in diameter
- Light fuel is round wood and herbaceous vegetation with 1/3 inches and below in diameter
3) Topographic data
The steeper the land slope, the faster the spread of fire up slope. Using topographic maps, the areas are slopes between 41-60% corresponding to steep, moderate and low gradients In terms of wild fires spread (Cannon et al, 2007).
4) Critical weather frequency
This is weather condition sets, of a combination of low wind and relative humidity whose effects on behavior of fire makes it difficult to control and threatens safety of fire fighter.
Impact of the fire hazard to the Los Angeles community
Wild fires can cause damage to the infrastructure when buildings and structures are razed down and destructed by fires. Furthermore, transportation is disrupted when roads are destroyed by fire. Gordon et al (1987) points out that food supply is interfered with when crops are burnt down by fire in addition to displacement of families where houses have been burnt.
Emergency medical care is hindered and environment is contaminated when fire reaches high temperatures and hazardous materials are released to the environment. Moreover, citizens injuries and deaths can result and computer based information can be lost when computer equipments are destructed (Westman et al, 1975).
Westman, W. E., & University of California, Los Angeles. (1975). Vegetation conversion for fire control: A case study in Los Angeles. Los Angeles: School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles.
Smith, K. (2004). Environmental hazards: Assessing risk and reducing disaster. London: Routledge.
Cannon, S. H., & Geological Survey (U.S.). (2007). Emergency assessment of debris-flow hazards from basins burned by the 2007 Canyon Fire, Los Angeles County, southern California. Reston, Va.?: U.S. Geological Survey.
Gordon, N. S., University of Colorado, Boulder., & University of Colorado, Boulder. (1987). Psychosocial impact of disaster: The Baldwin Hills fire. Boulder, Colo: Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado.