Different departments learn how each other work in the field.
This afternoon, a specialized training brought together firefighters from Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles City Fire, and the state’s agency CalFire.
While each group operates in a similar fashion, there are subtle differences in equipment, strategy and organization that could significantly hinder any joint operation if not hashed out beforehand.
And according to Assistant Fire Chief Luke Claus, the three agencies work together quite a bit. “We get together on the 5 freeway, on the 14 freeway, and truly throughout the rest of southern California as well.” Sometimes the incidents stretch across municipal lines, and sometimes they are just too big for one department to handle.
This is the case when large fires bring the departments into each other’s area of responsibility. It is here that the different teams will be coming into a major fire fight at different times, and they need to quickly acclimate themselves and be able to work cohesively with one and other.
Equipment can play a major role in a fire’s outcome. For example, during today’s exercise at Disney Ranch, fire crews simulated running hose up through a simulated brush fire. With only a limited amount of hose on each engine, new crews constantly attach their hoses to the existing line. But different departments sometimes use differenct hose sizes and fixtures. If the hose fittings are different, then the whole fight comes to a halt while a remedy is figured out. Holding a yearly training like this allows each department to know the standard equipment specifics so they can quickly and efficiently keep the operation moving.
Another benefit to the training is to get every crew on the same page. “The whole idea is to get everyone out here using the same language and recognizing each other’s tactics,” Chief Mike Singer with LA County Fire told KHTS.
A CalFire strike team, which responds mainly to large brush fires across the state, was on hand to watch the LA County and City teams work. They could then ask questions, and gain an overall knowledge on techniques.
As with any successful operation, a precise order of command is necessary. In this case, it was an LA County operation, so Battalion Chief Steve Davis was in control. When the Los Angeles City head arrived on scene, he parked his SUV right next Davis’ and immediately jumped into an assisting role. Being versed in the same language and knowing each other’s capabilities allow the incident commanders to better organize their forces.
Of course, all this ultimately adds up to a safe place for all of us here in Santa Clarita and throughout southern California. And as another fire season takes off, it will be good to know that our crews have already worked through any potential hiccups in the intricate and difficult task of major fire suppression.