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Several local, state and federal officials lined up in a city park this afternoon to face a throng of television cameras and proclaim that the city and the county are ready for a potentially very busy wildfire season.

With Santa Ana winds forecast for this weekend, Mayor Jerry Sanders said the city has fully funded brush management efforts in the city’s open space for the first time ever, and announced that the city has just won another $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fund brush management efforts.

That’s in addition to a $2.6 million grant the city won earlier this year to thin brush on its open space.

Sanders also touted the city’s acquisition of a second firefighting helicopter, and the recent decision by CalFire to allow San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopters to make water drops at night on state-controlled land.

“I want to assure you, San Diego has never been better prepared for wildfire season, both from a prevention and firefighting standpoint,” Sanders told journalists at the press conference.

Congressman Brian Bilbray said the citizens of San Diego deserve credit for winning the FEMA grant, not just public officials. “The people of San Diego County and city have raised such a level of response that the federal government took notice,” Bilbray said.

SDFD Fire Chief Tracy Jarman spoke briefly about what individual residents can do to protect their homes in wildfire season. She echoed the mayor’s comments that San Diego’s firefighters are ready.

“We’re prepared, as prepared as we’re going to be, for the wildfire season,” Jarman said. “We’ve learned some valuable lessons from the past fire seasons and, with the support of mayor Sanders and the City Council, we have new apparatus, we have stocked up supplies and equipment, and we’ve conducted specialized wildfire training with all of our crews.”

Sanders and County Supervisor Greg Cox also used the press event to briefly state their support from Proposition A, a ballot measure that would impose a parcel tax on residents and would provide tens of millions of dollars for fire protection in the county.

WILL CARLESS

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