Uncle Sam wants city Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Rich
Baenen, but so does the city.
With military build-ups in the Middle East, Baenen was on the
verge of being called to active duty this week with the U.S. Coast
But the city doesn’t want to let him go without a fight. Baenen, a
civilian employee, runs the city’s disaster programs with the help of
only an administrative assistant. Before a city hiring freeze, Fire
Capt. Ron Barone worked alongside Baenen. But with a looming cuts
from the state, the city is moving Barone back to the line.
Weeks ago, Baenen received notice for the second time since the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was being called up for
The last time Baenen went -- two days after Sept. 11 -- he left
his city post for 10 months. This time, Baenen received a call-up
letter that gave him a choice, but added not to make any plans after
Monday, since he might be required to take his post in the Coast
“I think it’s better than 50% that I can stay,” Baenen said. “I
haven’t packed yet.”
Baenen said he’s written to his superiors, informing them of his
post here and the importance of staying. He is waiting for a
If Baenen is sent away, a fire captain would have to be pulled off
the line to take over Baenen’s spot. But Baenen would like to find an
assistant who could work with him and cover for him full-time,
buffering his small division.
City Manager Bud Ovrom and Fire Chief Mike Davis have met to talk
about the future of the division. They agreed to send letters to
Baenen’s Coast Guard superiors, asking he be able to remain here. One
letter has been written by Ovrom and another letter will be sent by
Mayor David Laurell to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) to ask for his
support in retaining Baenen.
“We only have one person in that job,” Ovrom said. “We can’t
afford to lose him.”