Fire Chief Q&A;: Watch the weather, be prepared

La Cañada Flintridge is heading into fire season under the watchful eye of Los Angeles County Asst. Fire Chief Dean McGuire.

McGuire, who worked on the 2009 Station fire, recently began covering the city after serving as battalion chief in the Santa Clarita Valley. He has dealt with several forest fires in his 33 years in the department. Taking a break from a multi-agency training exercise in the Angeles National Forest, he answered questions for the Valley Sun.

Have you spent a lot of time in La Cañada?

In this Division 3 area, I've spent over one-third of my career out here. That's why I wanted to come back. I like the neighborhoods. I like the people. I enjoy the brush and the variety of incidents we get out here. I'm thrilled about being back out here.

Do you have any tips for preventing fires?

In May and June, we start our brush clearance program. I would encourage people to get their brush clearance inspections taken care of; It's really incumbent on the owners to pay attention.

Really, it's also watching the weather. Be prepared. We do it; we check the weather every day.

Human activity is the cause of most fires. Can you give some examples of some you've seen?

We've had brush fires that start with a large truck or vehicle. We've had vehicles dragging chains [on a freeway], and sparks fly, and then we'll have a row of fires along the freeway.

It's been a long time, but I've seen someone toss a glass bottle out the window and the reflection becomes a magnifying glass to start a fire.

What are your goals in your new role?

I want my firemen to go home; that's the most important part. What I also want to see is that we keep those small fires from becoming big fires. We have a very robust brush response. Our intent is to keep everyone coming until we have [the fire] under control.

Interview edited for space and clarity. 


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