As the Kern County Fire Department Chief and Director of Emergency Services, I would like to thank our fire department personnel, local elected leaders and allied agencies for their assistance during the recent earthquakes in the city of Ridgecrest.

The California Mutual Aid System is one of the best in the world, quickly coordinating the movement of resources throughout the state for all types of emergencies. Through agreements and standardized ordering processes, local governments can quickly order needed resources from other agencies through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. These systems worked well during the recent earthquakes, but are dependent on agencies making their resources available for dispatch to incidents outside their own jurisdiction as “Mutual Aid.”

As Independence Day is generally one of the busiest days of the year for all California Emergency Services, many agencies do not make resources available outside their jurisdictions to ensure they can fulfill their responsibilities at home. Kern County is grateful for the immediate support for the earthquake responses given by the Bakersfield City Fire Department, California City Fire Department, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority and others through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

On a local level, the city of Ridgecrest and county of Kern worked very well together under stressful circumstances. The quick activation and staffing of both Emergency Operations Centers by dedicated employees facilitated an appropriate, organized and well-supported response. I would like to offer a special thanks to Kern County personnel from all departments, who handled their responsibilities quickly and efficiently, with a strong sense of mission and purpose.

As your Kern County Fire Chief, I feel it is my obligation and privilege to take this time to reiterate to our Kern County citizens some of the ways you can be prepared for an emergency or natural disaster.

First, make a plan for what you and your family will do in an emergency. This plan should include where to meet if you have to evacuate, knowing the specific needs in your household, and how you will get important information in your community.

Second, build a disaster supply kit for your home and your car. These kits should include a three day supply of non-perishable or canned food, water for all family members, first aid kit, sanitation supplies, battery powered flashlight, garbage bags, portable radio, extra medications, and blankets or sleeping bags.

Third, make sure you know how to get important information in your community. You can do this by signing up for our ReadyKern alert system. This system is designed to alert residents and businesses in the case of an emergency or natural disaster that could impact your safety and welfare. Kern County residents are urged to register online at If you do not have web access, dial 211 and ask to be registered. For additional information on disaster preparedness, you can always visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

On a personal note, as a husband, a father and a member of this community, it is my pleasure to work together with our county residents and our Mutual Aid jurisdictions to ensure that we can handle anything that comes our way.

Kern County Fire Department Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Services David Witt was appointed as fire chief in June 2019. He has overseen the department’s Air Operations and Wildland divisions, as well as Fire Captain promotions, and has nearly 20 years of experience in the Kern County Fire Department.

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