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Burbank returns firefighting favor

Jackson Bell

A week after receiving help from neighboring fire departments to

battle a brush fire in the Verdugo Mountains, Burbank firefighters

are returning the favor by fighting fires in Simi Valley and San


Bernardino County.

Two Burbank Fire Department engines with four firefighters each

responded Friday morning to Rancho Cucamonga to fight the massive

Grand Prix fire. As of Tuesday, they were battling the fire in San



A third engine -- with four firefighters, a battalion chief and an

aide -- were dispatched to the Simi/Verdale fire Saturday night.

Additionally, a water tender manned by two firefighters was sent to

Simi Valley on Sunday and redirected to the Grand Prix fire Tuesday,

Burbank Fire Marshal Dave Starr said.

Area fire departments operate under a state mutual-aid system --

firefighters from other areas assist when a fire is larger than a


department can handle with available personnel. Burbank firefighters

who are deployed will assist other departments until the blazes are

contained or they are released from the incident.

“Everyone benefits, because no one department has enough resources

for a major situation,” Starr said. “Mutual aid places immediate

resources where they are needed instead of sticking to jurisdictions

and not having what is needed at an incident.”

Sixteen off-duty firefighters were called to fill in for their


Burbank colleagues while they were away assisting other

jurisdictions. Fire personnel usually will travel to fires in the

counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis

Obispo, but also have fought fires in Northern California.

The Burbank Fire Department pays the cost of the first 12 hours.

After that, the cost is recouped from the jurisdiction the

firefighters are assisting.

Starr said the Burbank Fire Department limits its mutual-aid

system to the available number of reserve personnel and vehicles --

four engines and one truck. But exceptions can be made for adjacent


“If we had an immediate life-threatening or home-threatening

situation nearby -- for instance, lives being lost in North Hollywood

or Glendale -- we would [dispatch more than] reserve officers, as

they would for us,” he said.

More than 100 firefighters from five fire departments, including

Glendale, Pasadena, L.A. County and L.A. City, responded to Burbank

on Oct. 21 to battle the brush fire near Wildwood Canyon. The blaze

was fully contained the next day.