Governor Brown declared a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon due to the Wall Fire in Butte County that has caused significant damages and evacuations.

The decision to declare or not declare a state of emergency is based on the legal and operational resources available to help combat the issue, which in this case is the Wall Fire, and also presents implications for governments, the public and private sector, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO).

Whenever necessary, all states have mechanisms that allow the governor to make the declaration. In some cases, according to ASTHO, states have also allowed state health officers and agency directors the ability to declare emergencies.

Generally, across the U.S., the state governor issues an executive order for the declaration. The declaration specifically cites the duration, location, and conditions of the emergency along with the agencies leading the response efforts.

According to ASTHO, when a state of emergency is declared, a number of authorities and actions by state and local governments specific to emergency events can be put in motion, including:

  • Activation of state emergency response plans and mutual aid agreements.
  • Activation of state emergency operations center and incident command system (ICS).
  • Authority to expend funds and deploy personnel, equipment, supplies, and stockpiles.
  • Activation of statutory immunities and liability protections for those involved in response activities.
  • Suspension and waiver of rules and regulations (and statutes, if allowed).
  • Streamlining of state administrative procedures such as procurement requirements.