Dept. of Forestry and Fire Prot. v. Lawrence LivermoreAnnotate this Case
Governmental jurisdictions enter into mutual aid firefighting agreements to assist one another in fighting fires within their jurisdictions. Two such agreements are at issue here. One agreement stated(as relevant), “No party to this Agreement shall be required to pay compensation to the other party for services rendered. The mutual advantages and protection afforded by this Agreement shall be adequate consideration.” The other agreement stated (as relevant) that plaintiff, California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), “assumes financial responsibility for aircraft, hand crew, engine, and dozer resources needed to effectively contain [a] fire” (in another jurisdiction’s area that adjacently threatens an area in Cal Fire’s jurisdiction). The principal question this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on whether these agreements were reasonably susceptible to an interpretation that the jurisdiction receiving aid was liable for fire suppression and related costs incurred by the jurisdiction giving aid, if the jurisdiction receiving aid has negligently acquiesced in, or has negligently failed to prevent, known conditions, circumstances, or conduct that might reasonably be expected to result in the starting of the fire. The Court answered, “No.” Consequently, it affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the jurisdiction that received aid here, defendant Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.