Hawaii PD's Wildfire Response Report Calls for Better Gear, Communication

Feb. 6, 2024
The Maui Police Department's after-action report on the August wildfire that tore through Lahaina outlined over 30 recommendations to improve future responses to similar catastrophes.

An after-action report by a Hawaii police department following last year's wildfire compiled over 30 recommendations to improve future responses to similar disasters, including updating equipment and technology and creating better communication between officers and emergency personnel.

The Maui Police Department's report looked at the response to the Aug. 8 wildfire that burned through Lahaina, killing at least 100 people and destroying the town, The Associated Press reports. Recommendations emphasized the need for improved equipment, such as earpieces for when winds make radio communication difficult and breaching kits in cruisers for use on downed utility poles and trees. 

The report also focused on improving communication with police officers and other first responders. Proposed ideas included conducting more briefs for field officers and placing lieutenants and other high-rank officers in the communication center. 

While defending the report's thoroughness at a Monday news conference, Police Chief John Pelletier said the findings were look at by two outside agencies. 

“There’s been a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacks and a lot of folks that say ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda,’ but if you weren’t there, then you don’t know. And if you think you can do better, MPD is hiring,” he said.

Pelletier added that it could take up to a year for the report to be finalized to allow for more recommendations. The report also would be given to other U.S. law enforcement agencies so that they can benefit from what the Maui Police Department learned from last year's wildfire response.

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