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Legendary LAFD Spokesman To Retire

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 |

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 was the last day of duty for a legendary Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman.

Firefighter/Specialist Jim Wells retired after 31 years of service, and we thank our readers, especially active and retired members of the media, for offering their well wishes during his final tour of duty.

Jim spent more than a quarter-century as a Fire Department media representative, talking to staff from 'The Valley News and Green Sheet' before they became 'The Daily News', conveying word of local calamity to the typewriter-filled newsroom at the Herald-Examiner, rallying radio news reporters from then top-rated KMPC, and informing national television newscasters long before there was something called CNN.

How the world has changed...

During his tenure on the LAFD, Jim dealt with countless emergencies and disasters including such noteworthy events as:

- S.S. Sansinena Explosion, December 17, 1976
- Topanga Canyon Fire, November 14, 1977
- DC-10 Crash at LAX March 1, 1978
- Mandeville Canyon Fire, October, 1978
- Kirkwood Bowl/Laurel Canyon Fire, September 16, 1979
- The Dorothy Mae Apartment Fire, September 9, 1982
- Los Angeles Central Library Fire, April 29, 1986
- First Interstate Bank Fire May 4, 1988
- Pan Pacific Auditorium Fire, May 24, 1989
- US Air Boeing 737 Crash at LAX, February 1, 1991
- The Los Angeles Riots, April 9 - May 4, 1992
- Old Topanga Fire, November 2 - 11, 1993
- The Northridge Earthquake, January 17, 1994

...as well as LAFD response to:
- The World Trade Center Attack, September 11, 2001
- The Hurricane Katrina Disaster, August 29, 2005

Jim also had the dolorous task of dealing with the press and public in the line-of-duty deaths of several Los Angeles Firefighters, including:

- Firefighter Jaime Foster
- Captain Raymond Peterman
- Apparatus Operator Michael McComb
- Firefighter Lead Paramedic Eric Reiner
- Firefighter Paramedic Michael Butler
- Captain Joseph Dupee
- Firefighter Benjamin Pinel
- Paramedic James Fitzpatrick
- Apparatus Operator Thomas Taylor
- Firefighter Frank Hotchkin
- Firefighter Lynn Hazlett
- Firefighter Brian Phillips

Jim worked his final shift on Wednesday, May 31, 2006.

A lively and well attended retirement dinner for Jim was held on July 21, 2006.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Do Municipal Bloggers Just Bog Down The Net?

Monday, May 29, 2006 |

In Sunday's Los Angeles Daily News, columnist and editorial writer Mariel Garza wrote...

"You know a trend is over when the government shows up. So once the LAPD's flacks hit the blogosphere, it became startling clear that the blogging revolution is officially passe." (full article...)

Though our Fire Department blog was not specifically mentioned, and our friends at the LAPD are more than capable of standing up for themselves, Ms. Garza asks us to consider the future of what she describes as "bureaucrat blogs" from local municipal agencies.

The question of course, and her comments, are not new.

The public debut of the LAFD News & Information blog in 2004 brought similar comments of blogging having 'jumped the shark' - yet remained hopeful of our ability to move forward and grow in both the spirit and technology of blogging.

..and so we ask of you, our readers and therefore stakeholders: Is there value in what our LAFD blog and other municipal blogs are offering today, and more importantly where you sense we're headed?

With that in mind, we ask you to read Mariel's thought-provoking missive, and then to let us know in the comments section below exactly how this Fire Department blog is doing.

While you might wish to directly address Daily News Readers, or Mariel Garza herself, that's not the purpose of our posting

NOTE: We will post comments of any viewpoint that are polite and on-topic regarding the LAFD blog and municipal blogs in general.

Comments that are impolite, seek to belittle other commentors (rather than their viewpoint), speak about Ms. Garza as a person rather than directly to the issue, or in our sole opinion appear to be comment spam or ad-hominem attacks will not be published. For that, there is Usenet.

..and so again, the question: Is there value in what our LAFD blog and other municipal blogs are offering today, and more importantly where you sense we're headed?

Do we get it? If so, how? If not, why?

Please click here or on the 'comments' link below to publicly share your thoughts.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Granada Hills Collision Takes Life of Tarzana Man

Sunday, May 28, 2006 |

On Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 12:01 PM, four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one EMS Battalion Captain and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Jeffrey Marcus responded to a Civilian Fatality Traffic Collision in the 17000 block of Devonshire Street just east of Amestoy Avenue in Granada Hills.

Firefighters arrived quickly to discover a black compact coupe driven by a 21 year-old Northridge man, which had struck the drivers side of a gray compact sedan driven by a 95 year-old male from Tarzana.

The Tarzana man sustained massive trauma in the impact, and was declared deceased at the scene.

His passenger, an 82 year-old female, sustained head and thoracic trauma as well as a fractured ankle. She was rushed by LAFD Paramedics to the Trauma Center at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in critical condition.

The 21 year-old Northridge man, who was the sole occupant of his vehicle, suffered a left knee injury and minor contusions. Paramedics were quick to credit his use of a seat belt and deployment of the vehicle's air bags with saving his life. He was transported by LAFD Paramedics to the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in fair condition.

The status of restraint use by occupants of the other vehicle was not immediately determined by Firefighters.

A positive identification of the deceased man, as well as the exact cause and manner of his death will be determined by Los Angeles County Coroner's staff. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division will be investigating the cause of the collision.

(video)

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Woman Dies, Off-Duty Firefighter Injured in Northridge Collision

Saturday, May 27, 2006 |

On Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 6:04 AM, four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, five LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, two EMS Battalion Captains, one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Robert M. Rose responded to a Multi-Patient Traffic Collision at the intersection of Reseda Boulevard and Roscoe Boulevard in Northridge.

First units on the scene reported a traffic collision involving a pick-up truck, a Metro Bus, an SUV and two passenger vehicles with four individuals in need of medical treatment.

An off-duty Los Angeles Firefighter driving a pick-up truck on his way to work was struck by the speeding SUV, which caused his vehicle to over turn and smash into a stopped Metro Bus and two other stopped vehicles trapping him in his pick-up.

Firefighters using extrication tools quickly extricated their trapped off-duty colleague. He was treated and transported to adjacent Northridge Hospital Medical Center in critical condition.

The twenty-two year old female driver of the SUV was declared dead on the scene. The driver of the Metro Bus and one passenger (serious) and one individual from the passenger cars (minor injuries) were all assessed, treated and subsequently transported to local hospitals.

The cause of the collision is currently under active investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

(video)


Submitted by James "Jim" R. Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Electrical Arc Burns Three Workers in Los Angeles

Friday, May 26, 2006 |

On Friday, May 26, 2006 at 8:40 AM, five Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, four LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Arson Unit, two EMS Battalion Captains, one Arson Investigation Unit and a Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Dean Ulrich, responded to a Multi-Patient Electrical Burn Incident at 1115 South Boyle Avenue in the Industrial Eastside of Los Angeles.

The first Company arrived in response to a combination of calls reporting a structure fire and multi-patient electrocution, to discover alarm bells ringing and fire sprinkler activation at a 100' x 200' one story industrial building.

Firefighters and Paramedics were directed to a loading dock on the northwest side of the building where they found three workers with electrical burn injuries.

According to witnesses, the three men, employees of Sun Valley, California based Metal Etc, Incorporated, were involved in the decommissioning of the former telephone directory printing plant.

A bystander stated that a 39 year-old worker and his 24 year-old colleague were in an electrical room removing items, including cables they believed to be de-energized, under the observation of a 59 year-old supervisor nearby.

A sudden high-voltage burst of electricity caused the two younger men to be enveloped in a massive electrical arc, and their supervisor to be blown through a doorway before adjacent fire sprinklers were activated by the flash fire.

The two younger men sustained second- and third-degree burns to more than 25% of their bodies, including their faces, while the supervisor suffered lesser burns and minor physical trauma.

The three men were transported to the nearby Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, with the supervisor in serious condition and his subordinates in critical condition.

Firefighters secured the buildings utilities pending the arrival of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials, as well as Cal-OSHA personnel, who will be investigating the incident.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Vehicle with Eight Teens Careens Off Mulholland Drive

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On Friday, May 26, 2006 at 2:20 AM, eleven Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, eight LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, two Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, three Helicopters, three EMS Battalion Captains, four Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, and one Division Chief Officer Command Team all under the direction of Assistant Chief Tony Varela responded to a Multi-Casualty Traffic Accident in the 13700 block of Mulholland Drive in the Beverly Glen area of the City of Los Angeles.

Over 100 Firefighters and Paramedics worked tirelessly for more than two hours to extricate, treat, and transport eight people from a vehicle that plunged more than 200 feet over the side of Mulholland Drive.

Two patients were found at the top of the hillside near the roadway, both had sustained moderate injuries. Due to the extreme terrain, access to the vehicle below proved extremely difficult. Firefighters using a combination of rope rescue systems were able to rappel down and navigate the steep terrain and thick brush to access the vehicle below.

LAFD Helicopters, equipped with the "Night Sun" assisted in illuminating the area and searching for additional victims.

When firefighters reached the vehicle below, they found an additional six patients. Firefighters immediately triaged all patients and determined that the remaining six patients had sustained minor to moderate injuries.

Firefighters and Paramedics immediately provided medical care and began preparing patients to be removed to the area above.

Two LAFD USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) Task Forces were requested to assist in setting up and operating a Rope Rescue System for removing the patients. Two simultaneous Rope Rescue Systems were established and operated by USAR members during this incident.

In addition, LAFD helicopters conducted hoist operations using litter baskets to provide rapid transport for four of the injured teens.

Six patients sustained moderate injuries and two received minor injuries. Fortunately, none of the eight patients injuries were life threatening.

All eight patients, ranging from ages 13 through 19 were transported to local hospitals including Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center, and Sherman Oaks Hospital.

Preliminary reports have indicated that the teens, from Anaheim, were returning home from a party in Hollywood. Six of the teens were riding in the passenger compartment of the Nissan Sentra sedan while two teens where locked in the trunk.

As the vehicle careened off the embankment and began to roll down the hillside, the trunk lid opened, throwing the teenagers clear of the wreckage.

Initial indications from allied agencies are that alcohol or drugs did not play a role in this incident, the cause of which is currently under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

(video) (video) (images) (images)

(KCBS/KCAL Video on 'Trunking')

Submitted by Ron Myers, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Woman Rescued From Air Conditioning Duct

Thursday, May 25, 2006 |

On Thursday, May 25, 2006 at 2:53 PM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain, and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief John Nowell responded to a "Confined Space Rescue" incident at 77 Park Lane in the Coldwater Canyon / Mulholland Drive area.

Firefighters arrived to find a large, 20,000 square foot mansion, which was under construction. Rescuers were directed by construction crews to the basement of the large structure to find a 30 year-old woman trapped, fifty feet into a sixteen inch diameter, horizontal air conditioning duct. Due to the precarious location of the trapped woman, additional firefighters and an Urban Search and Rescue team were immediately requested.

Apparently, the woman ran onto the construction site and was extremely agitated at the construction crew. She immediately ran into the basement, ascended a ladder to the ceiling of the basement and crawled head-first into the sixteen inch air conditioning duct. As she traversed the horizontal duct, she became wedged 5o feet into the duct. As Firefighters developed a strategy to safely extricate the woman from the duct by dismantling it, other Firefighters attempted to coax her to back out of the pipe herself.

At the coaxing of Firefighters, the woman began to slowly back out of the pipe feet first, inch by inch. Forty-three Firefighters spent almost an hour assisting the woman in self-extricating herself from her trapped location. Fortunately, the woman was removed without damaging the home. She suffered minor scrapes and scratches and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

The cause of the woman's actions has not been determined and the incident is under investigation by the proper law enforcement authorities.

(video)


Submitted by Ron Myers, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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LAFD Handles Dramatic Van Nuys Trench Rescue

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 |

On Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 9:55 AM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, two EMS Battalion Captains, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and one Division Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Assistant Chief Roderick Garcia responded to a Trench Rescue in the 5300 block of Woodman Avenue in the south Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.

The first Company arrived quickly at the front yard of a large two-story home under construction to find one adult male trapped in an excavation.

The twenty-five year-old man was reportedly constructing a sanitary sewer line in the front yard of the unoccupied home when the walls of the trench he was in suddenly gave way.

Firefighters discovered the man conscious but disoriented, three feet below ground level, entrapped at a 45-degree angle with only his head and one shoulder exposed.

The nearby major street was quickly closed to all vehicle traffic and additional LAFD resources staged at a distance as a perimeter was secured to minimize vibration and soil movement.

With trench edge protection and speed shoring quickly applied, Firefighters began initial confined space operations by laying ground ladders across the narrow channel as they worked briskly with their bare hands and later hand tools in a strategic fashion to remove the first of hundreds of pounds of damp soil from the victim's upper body.

Oxygen was applied and intravenous solutions made ready within the confines of the trench as LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics offered the listless man both verbal reassurance and constant human contact pending the arrival of additional personnel.

Click to view slideshow...

An LAFD Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Company soon arrived with specially trained staff and equipment necessary for the safe and rapid extrication of the victim.

Now deep within the trench and adroitly using a pair of high-velocity pneumatic hand held Air Knife tools attached to soil vacuums, Firefighters moved the dirt away in a swift and almost surgical fashion, allowing them to free the man less than thirty minutes after the first 9-1-1 call was received.

Click to view slideshow...

The disoriented patient, in critical condition, was placed immediately on a backboard to immobilize his spine, and transported by LAFD ambulance to the Trauma Center at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Questions regarding the presence, need or injured man's use of safety equipment and approved worksite procedures remain within the purview of Cal-OSHA officials, who are actively investigating this incident.

VIDEO: (raw feed) (story package)
IMAGE: (slideshow 1) (slideshow 2) (gallery 1) (gallery 2)

Images courtesy of Battalion Chief Evan Williams, Battalion 14

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Trio of 'Huffing' L.A. Teens Enveloped in Fireball

Saturday, May 20, 2006 |

On Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 1:41 AM, one Company of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances and one EMS Battalion Captain responded to a Multi-Patient Burn Injury near 5249 Aldama Street in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles.

Firefighters arrived quickly to find three teenagers who had been seated in a parked and closed vehicle, with one or more reportedly inhaling aerosol spray in an attempt to induce euphoria, when one apparently ignited smoking materials.

The ensuing fireball enveloped all three, who sprang from the vehicle, ran and shouted for help. Most seriously burned by the flash fire was a 15 year-old female with second degree burns to 27% of her body, including her arms, back and face. In critical condition, she was transported by LAFD Paramedics to Huntington Memorial Hospital.

Her two male companions, ages 16 and 17, sustained lesser burn injuries. In fair condition, the young men were taken by LAFD ambulance to Glendale Memorial Hospital.

The three spoke of each other as friends, and their exact relationship was not immediately determined by Firefighters. Los Angeles Police Department Officers from the Northeast Community Police Station were summoned to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident.

(video)


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Tarzana Toddler Fights For Life After Near-Drowning

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 |

On Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 2:09 PM, one Company of Los Angeles Firefighters, one LAFD Rescue Ambulance and one EMS Battalion Captain responded to a Reported Drowning at 5148 Melvin Avenue in Tarzana.

Firefighters and Paramedics, responding to a 9-1-1 call from a babysitter, arrived quickly in the living room of a one-story single family home to find a 13-month old male unresponsive and almost imperceptibly breathing.

According to the clearly distraught adult female sitter, the child had slipped unwitnessed below the waterline in a bath tub, when she left him unattended for "no more than a minute".

As Firefighters cleared copious amounts of water and vomitus from the child's airway, they assisted his respirations and placed him immediately in an awaiting LAFD Ambulance.

A team of veteran Fire Department Paramedics offered supportive care, including oxygen to the child, who became increasingly conscious and required less breathing support during transportation to Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

His condition at the time was considered "serious".

Though seasonal safety advisories by the Los Angeles Fire Department and other agencies have largely focused on swimming pool incidents and open water safety, the dangers facing infants, toddlers and children include bath tubs, play pools, fountains - and even buckets containing as little as one inch of water.

If we could offer but one message on water safety, it would be that nothing whatsoever can take the place of constant watchfulness and supervision by a competent adult.

Furthermore, please understand that children and others "Drown Without A Sound" and that "It Doesn't Take a Lack of Attention, Merely a Lapse In Attention" for a drowning tragedy to occur.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Missing Railcar Gasket Spurs HazMat Leak in L.A.

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On Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 8:54 AM, four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Hazardous Materials Task Force, one EMS Battalion Captain and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Dean Ulrich responded to a Hazardous Materials Investigation near 2200 Jesse Street in the Industrial Eastside area of Los Angeles.

Summoned by Union Pacific (UNP) railroad officials, Firefighters arrived quickly to establish a command post and staging location that was uphill and upwind from a local rail switchyard where a 3,000-gallon rail tank car was leaking a small quantity of "Styrene Monomer" an aromatic liquid often used in the making of polystyrene plastics, protective coatings, polyesters and resins or as a chemical intermediate.

According to witnesses, the railcar had been filled with the non-pressurized liquid fifteen days earlier at another site, and has been at its current location an unspecified period of time. During routine switching operations, a small quantity of the flammable and mutagenic substance was seen to spill from the manway atop the cylindrical railcar.

With an abundance of caution, adjacent rail lines were closed and the local commuter railroad was notified. Firefighters subsequently oversaw the calm and orderly evacuation of sixty employees from the nearby Ventura Foods plant to a parking lot east of their business.

Firefighters then cordoned off the immediate area as Fire Department and Railroad HazMat experts determined the scope and extent of any danger.

Working closely in support of Union Pacific's on-site regional Manager of Chemical Transportation Safety, Los Angeles Firefighters provided ladders, charged hoselines and logistical support of his replacement of a missing gasket, after assuring the genesis of the leak to have been a simple "splash over" condition.

Due to favorable wind, weather and incident conditions, the employees of Ventura Foods were allowed to return to their place of work within an hour.

There were no complaints of injury or illness.

Firefighters subsequently turned control of the scene to the County of Los Angeles Fire Department's Health Hazardous Materials Division.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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LAFD Offers Prime Example of Collaborative Blogging

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 |

A recent post by Los Angeles Fire Department bloggers about "collaborative on-line efforts" has drawn some questions and more than a few puzzled looks.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, please let us share 77,000 from digitalboss, who captured the 'LAFD in Action' in early August 2004.

Click to view more...
IMG_5580
Originally uploaded by digitalboss.



To see more, you can view his on-line Slide Show or Photo Gallery


What happened? LAFD spokesman Jim Wells filed this report in August, 2004:

On Wednesday, August 04, 2004 at 5:33 PM, Thirty companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Assistant Chief Officer Command Team, six Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, three Battalion EMS Supervisors, three Arson Units and ten LAFD Rescue Ambulances under Deputy Department Commander Jimmy Hill, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 9083 North Woodman Avenue in the Arleta area. First units reported a 1-story, 100’ x 150’ building with the rear well involved with fire spreading to the front of the building. Entering the structure with handlines, Firefighters encountered heavy fire and smoke and were directed to withdraw and take up a defensive position on the exterior. Using handlines and heavy stream appliances, Firefighters confined the fire to 'Sav-On' drug store and extinguished the fire in two hours and thirty-five minutes. One Fire Captain suffered an injured knee and was transported to a local hospital in good condition. One Firefighter suffering from heat exhaustion was treated on the scene and released. No other injuries were reported.


What we hope to offer with "collaborative blogging", is your images and observations of the LAFD in Action. We'll stitch together the pieces, as we have done here, ideally creating a story that helps everyone better understand our daily endeavors.

Do you have a comment or suggestion on this topic? Please use the comments link below to offer your thoughts on public photo submissions for the LAFD blog.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Woman Rescued From Stalled Elevator in Smoke-Charged High Rise

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On Monday, May 15, 2006 at 7:07 PM, twenty-four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, three LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Arson Unit, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, one Hazardous Materials Squad, one LAFD Helicopter, two EMS Battalion Captains, six Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and one Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Assistant Chief Roderick Garcia responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 21700 Oxnard Street in the Warner Center area of Woodland Hills.

The first Company arriving in response to an Automatic Alarm activation, discovered forty persons calmly self-evacuating a twenty-story sealed high rise office building.

As the half-dozen first responding Firefighters quickly secured the lobby and adjacent Fire Control Room, they noted alarm activation on upper floors of the building. Firefighters also received verbal indication of fire on the seventeenth floor, and at least one building occupant missing and believed to be stranded in an elevator.

This information, relayed to Firefighter/Dispatchers at LAFD's Operations Control Dispatch Section, brought the well-coordinated response of an additional 149 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel on the ground and in the air.

In accordance with LAFD's High Rise Incident Command System, Firefighters established firm control of key building systems, including a recall of elevators to the lobby level of the seventeen year-old building. Firefighters carrying as much as 100 pounds of equipment each, then commenced a steady climb up more than forty flights of stairs to the upper reaches of the third-tallest building in Warner Center.

With detailed knowledge of the structure gained during fire prevention and annual Fire Department high-rise drills, Firefighters made strong headway to the seventeenth floor, where they found fire within an electrical room and smoke charging the seventeenth and impacting floors above.

As an LAFD Helicopter cross-staffed with an airborne Engine Company circled overhead, Firefighters established staging on the floor below the fire, optimizing a strategic assault that confined the incident entirely within the electrical room. The flames were fully abolished in little more than an hour.

There were no injuries related to the fire.

Subsequent to firefighting operations, Firefighters systematically searched the buildings many elevators and associated systems to discover a woman trapped in a 'blind' segment of a split-bank elevator that served only floors twelve and above from the lobby.

Finding the one elevator car stuck at the 'fourth floor' level of the sealed shaft, Firefighters established verbal contact with the woman, who was uninjured and not exposed to smoke.

After redundantly securing the elevator, Firefighters used power tools to breach the elevator shaft wall from a fifth floor storage room, and then used a 12-foot Fire Department ladder within the shaft to access the woman.

Following a cursory evaluation of her condition and affirming her capabilities, she was gently assisted in climbing the ladder, and exited safely to decline further treatment or transportation.

Battalion Chief James Gaffney, 'B' Platoon Commander of LAFD's Battalion 17, was quick to compliment building staff for their prompt and efficient actions prior to and following the Fire Department's arrival.

The 29-year LAFD veteran offered special praise for the Building Engineer and Electrician, who offered technical expertise and insight that helped readily mitigate the emergency and strengthen Firefighter's efforts at severely minimizing potential damage from smoke and water.

Damage to the building was severely limited, and is estimated at $330,000 ($30,000 structural & $300,000 contents damage - largely attributable to smoke). The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical in nature. The specific reason for the elevator becoming inoperative was not determined by Firefighters, but may have been related to the fire.

NOTE: The building's management firm, Douglas Emmett, and tenants have been deeply supportive of the Los Angeles Fire Department for many years. On a regular basis, they donate the full weekend use of this entire building, at more than a minimal inconvenience, to allow Firefighters to train for high-rise operations. It is training and teamwork that clearly played a dividend in this fire.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Worker Sustains Fatal Injury at LAX Cargo Facility

Monday, May 15, 2006 |

On Monday, May 15, 2006 at 10:22 AM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one LAFD Rescue Ambulance, one Heavy Rescue Unit, two Urban Search and Rescue Companies, one EMS Battalion Captain and two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams under the direction of Battalion Chief Millage Peaks, responded to reports of a trapped worker at a Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) cargo facility near 6555 West Imperial Highway in Los Angeles.

LAX-based LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics arrived quickly inside the large Qantas (QAN.AX) leased air freight handling site on the south side of the airport, where they discovered a male worker who initially appeared trapped by machinery at the base of a multi-level cargo pod storage rack.

According to bystanders, the 54 year-old Los Angeles man, an employee of Menzies Distribution (MNZS.L), had been seen "no more than five minutes" earlier, yet the incident which led to his injuries was unwitnessed.

As the Firefighter/Paramedics scrambled to the man's location beneath a semi-automatic tracked cargo handling conveyance known as an Elevated Transfer Vehicle, they found the man inverted, legs askew and non-breathing, with his chin to chest.

Though specially trained and equipped LAFD rescue teams were enroute, their skill and resources for heavy lift and mechanical disentanglment proved unnecessary, as the first arriving Firefighters were able to remove the cyanotic and pulseless man from his predicament and immediately initiate Basic Life Support measures.

The challenge of significant oral and nasal hemorrhage was overcome in providing Advanced Life Support to the man, who otherwise displayed no signs of major trauma, save a bruise across the upper chest and minor lacerations to his hands. He was transported to Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center in grave condition.

Despite the prompt and well-coordinated efforts of veteran LAFD Paramedics and Hospital Staff, the man's injuries proved incompatible with life. He was declared deceased shortly after hospital arrival.

There were no other injuries.

Airport officials have confirmed that this incident, within the cargo facility, had no impact on passenger operations.

The Los Angeles International Airport Police Department responded to the scene and will assist the Coroner's office in their efforts to positively identify the man, as well as determine the precise cause, exact time and manner of his death.

Questions regarding the presence, need or decedent's use of safety equipment and approved worksite procedures remain within the purview of Cal-OSHA officials, who are investigating this incident as a workplace fatality.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Three Left Homeless Following Van Nuys Explosion

Saturday, May 13, 2006 |

On Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 7:06 AM, four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Patrick Butler responded to a reported explosion at 13740 West Vanowen Street in Van Nuys.

First units on the scene reported a three-story garden style apartment building with two floors of apartments over garages and occupants of the building indicating that an explosion had occurred in one unit on the top floor.

Further investigation by Firefighters revealed that four "bug bombs" that were being used to exterminate pests in the unit had exploded. The force of the explosion compromised the walls and roof of the unit and slightly damaged two adjacent apartments and a vacant unit below the apartment where the explosion occurred.

The Incident Commander immediately requested an LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Team and Inspectors from the City's Department of Building and Safety to respond to the scene to evaluate the stability of the structure.

The Southern California Gas Company was also requested due to the magnitude of the explosion and to assist with any natural gas problems that may have resulted from the explosion.

After a thorough assessment by the Department of Building and Safety and the LAFD Urban Search and Rescue Team, it was determined that only the unit where the explosion had occurred was unsafe to occupy and was subsequently 'Red Tagged' as unfir for occupancy.

Approximately nineteen occupants were initially evacuated from the building as a safety precaution, but, only the three occupants of the involved unit were displaced and assisted by the American Red Cross with placement.

The remaining occupants were allowed to return to their apartments after it was determined that the other units had not been compromised by the explosion.

There was no fire or injuries and the precise cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

(video)

Submitted by James "Jim" R. Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Downtown L.A. Collision Sends Nine to Hospital

Thursday, May 11, 2006 |

On Thursday, May 11, 2006 at 8:09 PM, five Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, nine LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, three EMS Battalion Captains, one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, and one Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Raymundo Gomez responded to a Multi-patient Traffic Collision at the intersection East 15th Street and South Los Angeles Street in the South Park/Convention Center area.

First units on the scene reported a collision between two passenger cars with at least nine individuals in need of medical treatment. Several victims were temporarily trapped and quickly extricated.

Of the nine individuals injuried, eight adults were listed with moderate to serious injuries and a five month old was listed with minor injuries. The victims ranged in age from 5 months to 35 years of age.

All of the victims were transported to area hospitals: California Hospital, Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, and Good Samaritan Hospital.

The cause of the traffic collision is under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

(video)

Submitted by James "Jim" R. Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Dangerous Pacoima Rescue Mirrors Earlier Event

Monday, May 08, 2006 |

On Monday, May 8, 2006 at 6:06 PM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, two LAFD Helicopters and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Jack Wise responded to a Swift Water Rescue near 11000 North Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the northeast San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima.

Despite warm weather and a lack of appreciable rain for weeks, several local flood control channels remained swollen with retained water runoff.

In response to a 9-1-1 call reporting a teenage male in distress within the Pacoima Wash, forty LAFD personnel on the ground and in the air responded quickly to strategic positions along the concrete lined tributary, which had nearly three feet of cold water traveling at a brisk fifteen miles-per-hour.

As Firefighters deployed to pre-planned rescue points, it was soon determined that the young man was in a fixed but precarious position, clinging to the base of a twenty-four foot vertical channel wall adjacent to Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

Aware that the victim was a short distance from the churning waters of a dangerous dam, LAFD personnel from Fire Station 98 shouted words of encouragement while throwing a tethered flotation device to the youth, who had articles of clothing ripped from his body by the force of the water during his more than three-mile downstream journey.

A member of Fire Station 98's crew, already clad in Swift Water Rescue Gear, placed himself into a rescue harness as an LAFD Aerial Ladder was extended over the channel.

Secured by ropes and suspended from the ladder being used in a "crane-like" fashion, the Firefighter was carefully lowered into the rushing water in front of the boy, and while shielding him from the elements, secured the 15 year-old Sylmar resident to his harness.

Then, with both gentleness and precision, the two were raised to the dry and warm street level above - and the arms of waiting LAFD Paramedics.

The entire operation, from receipt of the first 9-1-1 call to the boy's release from the harness at ground level, took less than 22 minutes. There were no other victims and no Firefighter injuries were reported.

The mildly hypothermic boy, who also suffered numerous lacerations and abrasions, was quickly wrapped in warm blankets and taken to an awaiting ambulance, where his cold, damp clothes were removed and his wounds cleaned and dressed. Warming measures were instituted during his transport to nearby Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

Paramedics, who declared the boy to be in good condition, described him as polite, contrite and genuinely thankful for their efforts.

The teenager verbalized that he and a male friend had been riding their bicycles near El Cariso Park. According to his statements, each boy fell in the water, but his friend had amazingly been able to scramble free.

This event occured very close to a similar near-tragedy on April 8, 2006, when two girls were rescued from the rain-swollen Pacoima Wash. Those girls later visited and thanked personnel from Fire Station 98.

(video of today's rescue)

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Century City Crane Rescue, 'Deja Vu' For LAFD Firefighters

Sunday, May 07, 2006 |

On Sunday, May 7, 2006 at 1:47 PM, twelve Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, seven LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, two Urban Search and Rescue Units, two LAFD Helicopters, two EMS Battalion Captains, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, and one Division Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Assistant Chief Donald Austin responded to a Crane Rescue at 1875 South Century Park East in Century City/Rancho Park.

As Firefighters arrived at a construction site where a pair of twin high-rise office towers were under construction, they were notified that a thirty year-old male worker had suffered a horrific accident on the boom of a 310-foot tall construction crane. According to witnesses, the patient had been working on the crane boom, several hundred feet above, when his leg became entangled in a steel cable and pulley system.

Firefighters and Paramedics quickly carried a full-complement of Advanced Life Support and safety equipment to the crane boom located several hundred feet above the ground. A steel ladder system that was the sole means of access to the crane boom above.

Because of the severity of the patients injuries, a nearly amputated foot, a decision was quickly made to utilize LAFD Air Operations to perform a hoist evacuation. While supportive care was offered to the patient by ground-based crews, an LAFD Bell 412-EP helicopter configured as an Air Ambulance hovered steadily 100 feet above the uppermost portion of the crane. An LAFD Firefighter/Paramedic was then lowered to the patient via the helicopter's hoist system.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of hazards located near the boom, it was determined that a "litter-basket" operation was not possible. The patient was subsequently secured with a rescue harness and hoisted into the helicopter above. Once on board the Air Ambulance, the patient was quickly transported to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood where he underwent emergency surgery. There were no other injuries were sustained during this precarious rescue. The circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation by authorities.

For many of the Firefighters, Paramedics, and Air Operations personnel involved in this rescue, it was a case of "Deja Vu". On February 23, 2006 the Los Angeles Fire Department conducted a similar rescue from this same crane. In that rescue, the operator of the crane was suffering from a medical problem and was unable to retreat to the ground below. He was subsequently air lifted using a hoist operation and transported by air ambulance to a local hospital for treatment.

View February 23, 2006 Crane Rescue
(video) (video) (images) (images)

Submitted by Ron Myers, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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Seat Belt and Airbags Save Life of Sylmar Motorist

Saturday, May 06, 2006 |

On Saturday, May 6, 2006 at 10:10 AM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue Company, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Michael Bowman responded to a Physical Rescue Traffic Collision near 16010 West Roxford Street in Sylmar.

© Mike Meadows


Firefighters arrived quickly to discover a green minivan which, according to witnesses, left the nearby Golden State Freeway, rolling several times down a slight embankment before coming to rest against a tree.

As Firefighter/Paramedics entered the badly damaged vehicle to stabilize and treat the driver and sole occupant, they found the 50 year-old Sylmar woman to be badly pinned in the wreckage.

© Mike Meadows


With a prime focus on medical care and emotional support to the victim, Firefighters removed the entire roof of the minivan and then disentangled the woman from her precarious position, completing the entire operation in less than 18 minutes.

© Mike Meadows


The woman was transported to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in serious but stable condition. According to Firefighter/Paramedic Shawn Tukua, the woman's injuries were greatly minimized by her appropriate use of seat belts, combined with the vehicle's supplemental restraint system airbags.

The Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol each responded to the scene, and were collectively determining jurisdictional authority when Firefighters left the scene.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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Greater Alarm Fire Displaces Two in Echo Park

Thursday, May 04, 2006 |

On Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 2:52 PM, eight Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one LAFD Rescue Ambulance, one Arson Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, and one Division Chief Officer Command Team, under the direction of Battalion Chief Robert Franco responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 951 N. East Edgeware Road in Echo Park.

First units on the scene reported a two-story single family dwelling well involved with fire on the first floor spreading rapidly to the second floor and attic area.

Firefighters used handlines to aggressively attack the fire while simultaneously conducting search and rescue operations for victims that may be trapped within the structure.

It took Firefighters twenty-nine minutes to extinguish and confine the fire to the structure.

As a result of the fire two occupants were displaced. One Firefighter suffered a foot injury during fire ground operations and was transported to a local hospital and was subsequently placed off-duty.

No other injuries were reported.

Fire damage is estimated at $300,000. ($250,000 structure and $50,000 contents) The cause of the fire is listed an electrical short in an exterior electrical panel.

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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Swift and Massive LAFD Response Saves Hospital Patients From Fire

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On Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 3:46 AM, seventeen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, fifteen LAFD Rescue Ambulances, the Fire Chief, one Deputy Chief, one Heavy Rescue, two Arson Units, two Urban Search and Rescue Units, one Hazardous Materials Team, three EMS Battalion Captains, six Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team, Emergency Air, and the Los Angeles County Health Department, under the direction of Assistant Chief Roy Kozaki, responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 2231 South Western Avenue in the West Adams/Harvard Heights area.

First units on the scene reported a five story Medical Center building with a report of heavy smoke on the fourth floor.

Ascending to the fourth floor via the stairways, Firefighters encountered a considerable amount of heavy smoke banked down below waist in the hallway leading to the fire room.

Using handlines, Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire confining it to the one room and preventing fire spread to other portion of the floor. The fire was extinguished in approximately twenty minutes.

Due to pre-existing medical condition of many patients in the Medical Center, most were immediately evacuated to a treatment area on the first floor by Firefighters for assessment and as a safety precaution. Others were sheltered in place until the incident was completely under control and then assessed.

To ensure that all occupants of the "Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center" were accounted for and assessed, Firefighters searched each room in the building.

During the incipient stage of the fire, many of the patients on the fire floor were assisted to safety by nurses prior to the arrival of the Fire Department thus preventing many injuries and possible fatalities.

After a thorough search of the building by over one hundred Firefighters and assessment of all patients and staff members, it was determined that only two of the patients were in need medical intervention and transportation by Fire Department personnel for pre-existing medical conditions.

As a result of the fire, no injuries were reported. Fire damage is estimated at $35,000. ($25,000 structure and $10,000 contents). The cause of the fire is listed as under investigation.

(video)

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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Crenshaw District Blaze Causes $600,000 Damage

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 |

On Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 1:46 PM, fourteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, seven LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Arson Unit, two Urban Search and Rescue Units, three EMS Battalion Captains, eight Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team, and the Medical Advisor, under the direction of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas, responded to a Greater Alarm Structure Fire at 3417 South Crenshaw Boulevard in the Crenshaw District.

First units on the scene reported a one story, 50' x 100', commercial structure well involved with fire.

Firefighters using handlines aggressively attacked the fire and extinguished the fire in approximately thirty-six minutes.

During the ventilation phase of the incident, Firefighters were ordered off the roof after it was determined that the roof and attic area had been compromised by the fire and was totally unsafe to support Firefighters efforts to ventilate the fire.

The fire was confined to "V-Mart", an indoor swap meet and no other structures were threatened by the fire.

No injuries were reported. Fire damage is estimated at $600,000.00. ($100,000 structure and $500,000 contents). The cause of the fire is listed as under investigation.

(video) (images)

Submitted by Jim Wells, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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