Fire safety 101

Firefighters gave residents a crash course on protecting their homes from the continuous threat of brush fires during a fire expo Saturday at Memorial Park in La Cañada.

Residents in the “high hazard” hillside areas of La Cañada, La Crescenta and Glendale need to be prepared for wildfires like the one that burned through 60 acres of Glendale brush last week and prompted authorities to encourage voluntary evacuations in the area, said Chief Steve Martin, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s station in La Cañada.

With city, county and state resources dwindling, increased strains on firefighters may require citizens to be more proactive and knowledgeable about how to protect and evacuate their homes, Martin said.

“Even in the case of full response, when a major wildfire comes in, there’s really never enough [resources] to protect everyone,” Martin said.

Officials gave residents a breakdown of the county’s “Ready! Set! Go! Wildfire Action Plan,” which encourages residents to make a checklist of what they might need in the case of a fire emergency and to prepare a kit that can easily be taken in the case of an urgent evacuation order.

Vendors displayed their solutions to help residents improve the fire safety of their homes, by placing sets of flowers and plants around their homes that could create a “defensible space” to slow fires down, or by purchasing a pump system that could turn a swimming pool into a water source for a high-powered hose.

“We’re in the fire zone,” said Lakeview Terrace resident Michael Sullivan, who was asking about a gas-engine-powered pump and hose package. “We have to worry about this.”

Residents also asked questions about firefighters’ routines, their frequent appearances at grocery stores and their daily responsibilities.

“We explain to them that this is our home away from home,” said Glendale Fire Capt. Rudolph Woody, adding that firefighters who appeared to be shopping for groceries while on the job, are typically doing so to stock their stations during shifts that can last up to 96 hours.

Firefighters are always prepared to drop what they are doing at any time, in case an emergency should arise, Woody said.

That happened Saturday when Glendale Battalion Chief Greg Godfrey left the expo to rush to 1754 Hillcrest Ave., where he assisted in putting out the house fire within 20 minutes of authorities arriving at the scene, he said.

The fire, although small, had started in the home’s kitchen and spread enough to inflict about $150,000 worth of structural damage to the house and likely destroyed about $50,000 worth of household contents, Godfrey said.

No one was home when the fire started, and no injuries were reported, he said.


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