The Burbank Fire Department took part in a three-day training exercise to further prepare their brush fire response techniques on June 14, 15, and 16.
The training was hosted by LA City Fire Department Battalion 12, and took place at Veterans Memorial Community Regional Park. Each day of the brush fire program, one BFD Engine Company with four people and one Battalion Chief participated. The Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Glendale, Pasadena, and Burbank Fire Departments were all involved in the event, which presented fire personnel with drill scenarios and demonstrations. This included basic presentations of putting out fires using tools to shovel dirt on to flames and a simulated dispatch process. A command post and command structures were formed during training, and the participating agencies together formed plans for a hypothetical brush fire scenario. Exercises like these allow the BFD to develop strong communication skills with other surrounding agencies.
The BFD is active in responding to brush fires, as they aid the Cities of Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena with these occurrences multiple times a year. In addition, BFD strike teams, consisting of five fire engines and a Battalion Chief, respond to Ventura County, L.A. County, and San Diego County to combat larger fires. Several times within recent years, they have been as far as the California/Oregon border to fight brush fires, which contain a higher level of uncertainty than fires at residential homes or buildings.
“A brush fire is a whole different animal than a structure fire,” Burbank Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Hatch said. “There’s a… bit more predictability in a structure fire in that you’re in a little more of a confined space.”
The BFD focuses on three factors when fighting brush fires: fuel, typography, and weather. While the fuel and typography of these fires largely remain static, the weather can shift dramatically and consequently alter the safety of working conditions. To remain proactive, designated BFD personnel will continuously evaluate their location and predict any changes in these three vital elements that may occur at a brush fire scene.
“In a brush fire, you always have a lookout,” Hatch said. “You always have somebody that’s at a vantage point that can see the force above the trees, look at the typography, look at the fire, weather, look at the fire behavior and try to look out for you while you have your head down working.”
While larger agencies may have more extensive resources in responding to brush fires, the BFD most often receives help from Glendale and Pasadena fire agencies in these instances. This exercise marks the end of larger brush fire preparation for this coming season, as the majority of annual training for the BFD takes place in the spring. The graduation ceremony for incoming BFD probationary officers was celebrated on May 27, and situations such as this one allow them to continuously grow and learn as they become acclimated to their new roles within the fire department.
“The work is just beginning for them on a probationary year,” Hatch said of new officers. “Every day there’s…so much to learn and they’re doing a great job. Everybody is really solid.”