On Tuesday evening, Burbank Strike Team 1201A, which consists of one Battalion Chief, Engine 11, an Engine from Glendale, and one Engine from Pasadena, returned home from Montecito. Their trip began when Fire Chief Eric Garcia wrote to City Council and City Staff following the mudslides that hit the Montecito area. The message was as follows:
“Strike Team 1201 is has been dispatched “immediate need” to the Santa Barbara area for mud and debris flows. The Strike Team will be comprised of Burbank Battalion Chief Kenet Robertson as the Strike Team Leader and Burbank Engine 11 along with 4 other Area C Engine Companies. As we know the Santa Barbara area has severe burn areas from the recent Thomas Fire and this first rain is already making a tremendous impact.”
The emergency assistance is part of a mutual aid agreement within the county of Los Angeles. Area C, which is partially comprised of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Alhambra, and the Hollywood Burbank Airport, will sometimes respond to other areas that are in need of emergency assistance. Mutual aid assistance is not out of the ordinary and that time came when heavy rainfall gave way to the devastating mudslides in residential areas of Santa Barbara County.
After the initial rainfall and mudslides hit Montecito, the Burbank Fire Department mobilized two Battalion Chiefs, One Engine Company, Engine 11, along with four firefighters. Those four firefighters spent the days of January 9th to January 16th in Montecito. Each workday, the firefighters, along with other emergency response personnel, had shifts that ranged anywhere between 12 to 24 four hours. During those shifts, firefighters assisted in a USAR (Ultra Search and Rescue) task force in rescue and recovery missions. Those involved in the task force continually worked in water, mud, and debris throughout their tour in the Montecito area.
Sergeant Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department elaborated on the department’s aid to Montecito. According to Sgt. Green, this marks the department’s second tour to Montecito in recent weeks. The first tour saw Burbank Police Officers from the traffic division making the trip to assist with road closures in the area during the Thomas Fire in late December.
On January 18th, four officers, from Burbank’s traffic division, and one supervisor, a lieutenant from the department’s community outreach program, were sent to work one 12-hour shift. According to Sergeant Green, “The officers were tasked with patrolling evacuated neighborhoods to protect against theft and looting. They also helped with road closures and traffic control, and helped clean up crews and emergency response crews by escorting them in and out of the area.”
Now that the rains have stopped, our emergency responders and equipment are coming home. As of right now, there are currently no further requests for assistance from the Burbank Fire Department. Now that the skies are clearing, both our Police and Fire Departments will be returning to regular duty throughout the city.