Helping Firefighters Keep Us Safe
Wildfire season is upon us again and, as I am writing this, the news is focused on the massive Rim Fire burning in Yosemite National Park. As I see the smoke in the air from the Capitol, I am reminded of the 2009 Station Fire, which killed two firefighters and destroyed more than 250 square miles of land and 200 structures, including 89 homes.
While the Station Fire was surrounded by anticipation, fear, and tragedy, what stands out most in my mind is the incredible job done by the firefighters, law-enforcement officers, and rescue personnel who worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe. Volunteers, like the Montrose Search and Rescue Team, performed a variety of duties including evacuating those in danger and even going into the center of the firestorm to recover the bodies of two fallen firefighters.
Let’s do what we can to avoid having to put personnel in harm’s way. Now is a good time for all of us, even the experienced homeowner, to review basic fire-safety protocols.
Much of this stuff is common sense. During high winds, remember we live in a vulnerable area. Minimizing the use of candles, lighters, fire pits, barbecues and fuel-powered lanterns helps the entire community avoid a big blaze.
This time of year is also a good time to do your part and clear excess vegetation around structures, especially that which has dried up over the summer. And if you see smoke, do not hesitate to call 911. Firefighters would rather have you report a false alarm than miss a new fire. And don’t assume “someone else will do it.” You’d be surprised how many times just one person in a whole crowd took the time to call for help.
Following these basic tips pays off. Earlier this year, firefighters were able to stave off the flames threatening Chevy Chase Canyon in Glendale. That fire burned “only” 75 acres, but remains a comparative success story that officials credit to the pre-clearing of brush by civilians and firefighters being able to take quick action.
For more information on how to prevent wildfires, visit http://lafd.org/fire-prevention.
Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto