How to change

December 27, 2018

We now live in a City where 463 freshly vacant lots are owned by people who depended on the Fire Department to protect their homes.  Those who were at the homes tell disturbing tales of firefighters refusing to help and driving away. Some refused to help explaining they were "Waiting for orders" in a perverse reverse Nuremberg defense.  

I have seen video that shows over a hundred engines parked on Thousand Oaks Blvd. on Friday afternoon while the fire is approaching Malibu. Most of the offenders came as part of a Mutual Aid Force mobilized from all over the Southwest US.  They didn't know where they were, or where they were going. They refused help and guidance from  local citizens, and they did not seem to be in contact with any organizing force that could direct their efforts.

Is one of the main reasons for the Evacuation orders is to prevent citizens witnessing how disorganized and ineffective the response is?

Some citizens believe that the tradition of the Fire being controlled by Command from the location where the Fire started results in a force that is not focused on where the threat is going.

In a matter of a few hours they destroyed decades of confidence that the Fire Department would be there to protect us.

It's time for some Changes to save the reputation of Firefighters and rebuild some of the trust that was eroded by this debacle.

Change #1

In order to rebuild their homes, The survivors will need to obtain a Fire Flow Certificate from the Water Company and the Fire Department before they can start Construction.  

LACoFD should proactively, in partnership with the Water District 29, generate Fire Flow figures for each Hydrant in the Fire Area.  

There is no good reason why these Citizens should have to spend time and treasure to get to the point where they learn that they will not be allowed to rebuild until New larger pipes are put in the streets and a larger tank built that can supply at least 150,000 gallons of water.

Tell us up front what we are facing..

Change #2

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's office is currently considering reissuing the District 29 Water System Improvement Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR) developed in response to a Study done in 2011 and 2012 but shelved in June of 2017.  This Plan includes Improvements to Tanks and Water mains that will allow rebuilds in the Lower Encinal Canyon Area, Malibu Park and the Cavalleri Road Areas.  Water District 29 only operates within Malibu City Limits.

Escondido Road water improvements are also part of the plan.

If this EIR is heard and adopted, The Fire Department should allow rebuilds of the affected properties to begin ASAP instead of waiting for the District 29 Improvements to be completed.

Change #3

Our local Firefighters know our Roads and Canyons and are committed to our safety.  

Our Fire Department does a great job in day to day fire protection and Paramedic services, but in a major Wildfire Incident where Command is in the hand of other departments they are embarrassed by the results.

Firefighters sent to the area as part of a Mutual Defense program don't know our area and acted in this fire as if they had no skin in the game.

"Waiting for Orders" is not a good use of time or equipment in a situation where Command doesn't seem to be focused on utilizing their assets.

Mutual Defense Firefighters need a new set of Standing Orders for conduct in a firestorm.  

"In the absence of Orders from a Commanding Officer, Firefighters Shall Engage the Fire and Protect Private Property in cooperation with the Residents of the area"

Change #4

All Fire Department Officials shall henceforth refer to "Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas" (ESHA) as "Wildfire Corridors".  

Fire Officials shall also speak out in favor of fuel management plans aka the "Controlled Burns" that we remember from the 70's and 80's.

Fire Officials shall also encourage the State Legislators to reverse the rules that give State Agencies the option of exempting themselves from clearing brush within 200 feet of a structure.

Change #5

All Fire personnel and management shall affirm daily "Today, I will be part of the solution."