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San Diego Opens Office of Emergency Services to Coordinate Disaster Response

A San Diego County Fire Authority vehicle. Courtesy of the county

With the threat of wildfires and other natural disasters ever present in the region, San Diego launched its new Office of Emergency Services Monday.

The office, previously known as the city’s Office of Homeland Security and housed under the San Diego Police Department, is intended to refocus the city’s efforts on disaster preparedness and better identify the responsibilities of this crucial function within the local jurisdiction.

“Responding to a disaster is about providing the critical services San Diegans need to endure and recover,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “The new Office of Emergency Services positions the city to better respond in times of crisis with a coordinated, regional approach that will make San Diego safer for all of us.”

During a disaster, the city’s OES will lead all response efforts at the city level and will work closely with Cal OES — the state agency — as well as the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

Former San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Christopher Heiser has been named as the city’s OES executive director, stepping into his new role with experience in emergency management capacities over his 40-year career. Heiser joined San Diego in 2013 and worked previously at the Carlsbad Fire Department.