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Cal Fire firefighters monitor a back fire as they battle the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California.

That shouldn't have been necessary, Hickey said, because the company's policy is to immediately remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations.

"Verizon imposed these limitations, despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services".

Reyes also reiterated the company's position that this throttling had nothing to do with net neutrality-he emphasized that net neutrality had to do with content prioritization or de-prioritization, not data caps.

"By implementing net neutrality, SB 822 will help prevent internet service providers from throttling, thereby preventing data speeds to be manipulated and, in turn, avoid crippling, or worse, deadly outcomes", said the CPF in a statement on Friday.

On Friday, Verizon announced in a statement (https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-statement-california-wildfires-and-hurricane-lane-hawaii) that it will temporarily stop all throttling on service for first responders on the West Coast and in Hawaii, to support firefighting efforts and the response to Hurricane Lane. The department bought a government high-speed wireless data plan that provides an unlimited amount of data at a set monthly cost, but the company reduces speeds if the buyer exceeds its monthly allotment until the next billing cycle.

After Verizon admitted that it slowed the fire department's data - a despised practice known as throttling - but claimed it was a simple mistake that "has nothing to do with net neutrality", Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams responded in astatementon behalf of the fire department on Wednesday that "Verizon's throttling has everything to do with net neutrality".

In that statement, Verizon said it would be introducing a "new plan" with truly unlimited data and "priority access" for first responders nationwide.

The Mendocino fire which began on July 27 has consumed almost 407,000 acres, or roughly half the size of Rhode Island, and as of Wednesday it was 74 per cent contained.

The Santa Clara County Fire Department said in a lawsuit that Verizon slowed its internet communications at a Northern California wildfire command center three weeks ago.

Verizon denies the slowdown was related to the lawsuit or the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules, which required equal data access to all customers. Those rules are meant to force broadband companies to give all customers comparable service, and many critics have insisted they would have protected firefighters' internet access.

The department was forced to use other agencies' internet service providers, and some personnel had to use their personal devices for connectivity, Bowden said.

"I don't want to pay for all that data every month on the off chance that we're going to use it", he said.

"The idea that Verizon or another provider can opt in or opt out in helping us do what the public demands is appalling", said Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County supervisor.

"It's apples and oranges", said Rudy Reyes, Verizon's assistant general counsel in the western US region. But the issue was exacerbated at the Mendocino Complex Fire in July, as the staff could not reach a Verizon accounts manager, despite multiple phone calls and emails, until a day later.