For Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, Crescenta Valley Weekly visited Los Angeles County Fire Station 63 to speak to Capt. Jeff Sims and new firefighter Brad Sizemore.
By Mary O’KEEFE
With the memory of the Station Fire all too fresh in the minds of residents, local firefighters are eager to remind the community of ways to minimize the threat of fire.
One of the most important things for residents to remember to keep their homes safe is “defensible space,” said Capt. Jeff Sims.
Defensible space is 200 feet of clear space around a residence, he added.
The area should be clear of dry vegetation and clutter. This gives firefighters room to maneuver and protect a home. There should also be a clearance between the ground and a canopy of a tree.
The Station Fire burnt most of the old growth and dried vegetation in the Angeles National Forest, but Sims reminds residents that wild fires are still possible in the area.
“Just because it is green doesn’t mean it won’t burn,” Sims said.
Although firefighters arrive at homes within minutes of being called, if there is a wind-driven wildfire and engine companies are stretched, having defensible space around a home can make a difference.
In addition to clearing clutter, dried vegetation and cleaning leaves from rain gutters it is also important to allow space along streets for fire engines.
“You see how [large] the [trucks] are. We need a lot of space,” Sims said.
Many streets in Crescenta Valley are narrow, sometimes almost too narrow for a car to pass through let alone a large fire engine. If firefighters have to find another route or turn around this will delay emergency response time, Sims said.
“Especially around fire hydrants,” he added. “We do need every bit of that 15 feet [required] space.”
Sims added the hoses may look thin when coiled on the fire engine but one kink can make a big difference.
“Once water starts [flowing] into that hose we want no kinks. One [kink] can impede 70% of the water in the hose,” he said.
Firefighters are called out for several issues, not just fire. They respond to everything from fire to medical and even if someone has leaking water in or around their home.
“We are often the last resort call,” Sims said.
Those calls are what inspired recent academy graduate Brad Sizemore to become a firefighter.
Sizemore had gone to college and joined the workforce but wanted to do more. He wanted to give back to the community.
“I think this is a rewarding [career],” Sizemore said.
The firefighter has been at Station 63 since July. He is in a probationary period with the department, staying at the La Crescenta station for six months then transferring to another station to finish his year-long probation.
“The [job] is not a fit for everyone,” he added.
Sizemore did his due diligence before becoming a firefighter. He researched departments from northern to Southern California and spoke to a lot of working firefighters before applying for the job. The training at the fire academy is intense, not only physically demanding but academically as well.
The learning and physical training does not end after academy graduation.
“We work out every day,” Sims said.
For exercise, firefighters run and have a small work out room at the station.
Learning doesn’t end at the academy, either. Each morning the captain meets with his crew to discuss the training and plans of the day. They also discuss weather conditions including predicted Santa Ana winds. Training is a constant as well.
For Sizemore the process from research to the academy and now as a firefighter was worth it.
“We are like a family,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Fire and Glendale Fire departments offer information to help residents prepare for an emergency. Visit http://fire.lacounty.gov and click on Ready! Set! Go! Brochures are also available at most County fire stations.
For Glendale Fire Department, visit http://fire.ci.glendale.ca.us or visit local fire stations.
Los Angeles County Fire Station 63 is at 4526 N. Ramsdell Ave., Station 19 is at 1720 W. Foothill Blvd. and Station 82 is at 352 N. Foothill Blvd. In Glendale, Fire Station 28 is at 4410 New York Ave. and Station 29 is at 2465 Honolulu Ave.