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City starting to feel effects of military reservist call-ups

Ryan Carter

With war against Iraq looming, three of the 16 military reservists

who work for the city have already been called up for active duty and

more could follow.


Two call-ups were of rank-and-file employees in the Public Works

Department, Burbank Management Services Director John Nicoll said.

The men are Army reservists.

In another case, a division head in the Fire Department was


ordered to report, a move that will affect the department’s


For the second time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,

Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Rich Baenen was called to active

duty in the U.S. Coast Guard.

His duty could last up to a year. Fire officials said they will

feel a pinch during Baenen’s absence. His responsibilities include

planning and evaluating citywide disaster drills, assessing the


city’s vulnerability to disasters and training and recruiting

volunteers to the city’s civilian disaster response programs.

“He’s a major part of our department,” Fire Chief Mike Davis said.

“I don’t like losing him, but we’ll have to find a way to recover.”

A recent city hiring freeze chilled plans to hire an assistant

coordinator to assist Baenen.

During Baenen’s first call-up, which lasted 10 months, Fire Capt.

Ron Barone was taken off the line to fill in. When Baenen came back


-- following a request by City Manager Bud Ovrom’s to Baenen’s

commanders -- Barone was authorized to continue to help Baenen.

Officials hoped an assistant coordinator would take over by the end

of this month. Because of a previous agreement, Barone would go back

to working at a station.

Davis said a replacement for Baenen has not been determined.

Baenen hopes to keep tabs with the unit, but said a new

coordinator’s hands will be full now that bioterrorism planning has

become a new factor, volunteer programs have grown and only one

person is respon- sible for coordinating it all.