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Abandoned Fraternity House Burns Near UCLA

Monday, October 09, 2006 |

On Monday, October 9, 2006 at 2:17 AM, fourteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, three LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Arson Unit, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, one Hazardous Materials Squad, two EMS Battalion Captains, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and one Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 95 LAFD personnel under the direction of Battalion Chief Dennis Waters responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 611 South Gayley Avenue in Westwood.

Firefighters arrived quickly to discover smoke showing from the third floor of a vacant three story fraternity house southwest of the UCLA campus.

Forcing access into the abandoned building and aided by strategic vertical ventilation performed by rooftop colleagues, Firefighters extended handlines to do battle with intense flames on the top floor of the 5,447 square-foot building.

The fire was confined to the uppermost level of the unoccupied 67 year-old structure and extinguished in just 27 minutes.

There were no injuries.

Structural loss from the fire is estimated at $50,000. The cause of this early morning blaze remains under investigation.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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redcup56 said...

Brian H:

Sounds like the gang got the fire out pretty quickly (27 minutes). Great job!

Can you explain a "Battalion Chief Officer Command Team" and a "Division Chief Officer Command Team" and why the Battalion Chief was in charge, and not the Division Chief?

Stay Safe,

Portland, OR

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...


Thanks for the note. At this time, on an around-the-clock basis, the (1,2,3) regional field Divisions, and (sixteen community Battalions at the LAFD are overseen by a Chief Officer who is paired with a adjutant of the Firefighter rank who known as a 'Staff Assistant'.

The Chief Officer and his or her subordinate Staff Assistant work as a team to complete the myriad of timely responsibilities necessary at emergencies and in the routine administration of their respective Battalions and Divisions.

Often seen by the unknowing as being merely a Chief's driver, the Staff Assistant not only frees up the Chief to efficiently and effectively operate the radio and vehicle computer during the critical minutes of emergency response, but also works diligently at the scene and especially in the Chief's office to coordinate the many administrative matters necessary to maintain a safe, capable and accountable work force.

For this reason, the Chief Officer and Staff Assistant are known as a "Command Team".

At the fire in question, the Division Chief responded to the scene of an escalating incident, but on arrival did not assume Command.

Please know that this is a rare though purposeful decision made by the superior ranking Officer, when he or she sees the operations as going smoothly and wishes to support or coordinate efforts rather than assume full Command, as would normally be the case in an escalating or yet to be stabilized incident.

In the case of this 27-minute fire that took a turn for the better and was near extinguishment, the highly regarded though sub-ranking Battalion Chief remained in full Command of resources, tactics and strategy to the fire's completion.

I hope this information helps.

We do encourage those living or visiting Los Angeles to stop by their Neighborhood Fire Station to learn more about LAFD Command and Control principles.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

redcup56 said...


Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. In addition to the questions I asked, your response cleared up a couple of questions I didn't ask in the note.

Stay safe.

Portland, OR

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