Firefighters Say: Remove and Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 29, 2013 |

Though it has been seven years since the last fatal fire involving a Christmas Tree in Los Angeles... the clock is ticking!

In less than 30 seconds a small fire involving your holiday tree can become an inferno that consumes your home. To increase your odds of survival...

Get the tree out of your home today!

The LAFD encourages you to remove and recycle your natural Christmas Tree as soon as possible. In Los Angeles, convenient service is available with your weekly rubbish collection, or at special drop-off locations.

For those living in Los Angeles...

Recycle at Home: Use Your Green Bin

Residents with green yard trimming bins are encouraged to recycle their Christmas Trees by following 3 easy steps:
  1. REMOVE ornaments, decorations, tinsel and stand;
  2. CUT the tree in pieces to fit into the green bin; and
  3. PLACE the tree pieces in the green bin for regular pick-up on collection day.
If your tree is too big to cut and place within the bin - or if you reside in a multi-family building, simply put the tree (with ornaments, decorations, tinsel and stand removed) next to your green bin or curbside on your regular collection day.

No Green Bin or Curbside Collection?: Bring Your Tree to a Drop-off Site!

Residents without green bins can use one of 21 drop-off sites accepting trees only one day: Sunday, January 5, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

For a City of Los Angeles drop-off site near you, call 3-1-1 or visit:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

The Invisible Danger You Bring To the Gas Station

Saturday, December 28, 2013 |

You know how it happens at home: Walking on carpet creates a static charge that sparks when you touch something metal. The same thing can happen at the gas pump. Drivers, who slide back into the seat while waiting for their vehicle to fill, create static electricity - which can spark when they reach for the nozzle again - starting a fire!

Static electricity related flash fires at gas pumps are extremely rare. While they can happen at any time of year, they're most likely to occur in cool and dry climate conditions, especially during fall and winter months.

As part of an annual "Stop Static at the Gas Pump" safety campaign, your Los Angeles Fire Department joins the Petroleum Equipment Institute in encouraging safe refueling so that you can avoid this:

Can you spot the many things in the video that lead to a buildup of static electricity? What of the driver's actions when the fire erupts?

Here are some tips to help you stay safe when refueling:
  • Turn off your engine.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Never re-enter your vehicle when refueling.
  • If you must get back into your vehicle: touch something metal, like the door handle, before returning to the pump.
  • When filling a portable fuel container, always put it on the ground before filling to dissipate static.
To learn more about refueling safety, please visit:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fast Moving Fire Causes $1.5M Damage to Studio City Home

Friday, December 27, 2013 |

STUDIO CITY - A greater alarm fire in an unoccupied home briefly snarled traffic on busy Ventura Boulevard Friday evening, but caused no injury.

The Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned at 5:04 PM on December 27, 2013 to 13046 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, where crews arrived quickly to find heavy smoke showing to the rear of a combination one- and two story single family residence.

Despite intense flames, high heat and zero visibility within the rear section of the home's first floor, a well-coordinated rooftop ventilation effort with hand tools and chain saws permitted the release of heat and smoke that allowed LAFD personnel to directly battle flames and search throughout the 4,032 square foot building, which proved to be unoccupied.

Ninety Los Angeles Firefighters under the command of LAFD Battalion Chief Randy Beaty confined the bulk of fire damage to the first floor of the non-fire sprinklered home, extinguishing flames in just thirty minutes. No injuries were reported.

Fire loss has been estimated at $1,500,000 ($1,000,000 structure & $500,000 contents). The cause of the blaze remains under active investigation.

Dispatched Units: E278 T78 RA78 RA878 E102 E108 E88 T88 E288 EM14 BC10 BC14 E60 RA102 DC3 E86 E239 T39 BC5 E39 E260 T60 EM9 E89 UR88 T89 E289 UR89 RA89 RA889 BC4 AR2 AR9
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Near Death Fiery Christmas Crash Has Fortunate Ending

Thursday, December 26, 2013 |

SHERMAN OAKS - Emergency Personnel and two civilians rescued a trapped elderly motorist from a burning vehicle on the northbound San Diego Freeway (405), just South of Ventura Boulevard, on December 25, 2013.
Just before 2:00 p.m., a station wagon on the freeway lost control for unknown reasons and collided into the concrete center divider and burst into flames. Fortunately, there happened to be two Emergency Responders, one on his way to work and another traveling to visit family for Christmas, along with other brave motorists that changed the outcome of a man's life...


LAPD Bomb Squad Officer Thompson was driving to work on the southbound 405 freeway when he witnessed a station wagon crash and burst into flames. He quickly pulled to the center median, jumped over the guardrail and opened the car door. The driver of the vehicle was unconscious and still trapped behind the wheel as the flames began to engulf the front seat compartment.  The Officer fought the intense heat and smoke while feverishly working to remove the victims seat belt and pulled him out. With the help of two brave motorists, they carried the limp victim over the center median to safety, where another fortunate event took place.

Off-Duty Battalion Chief Miyagishima was headed to visit family for a Christmas dinner. He supervises LAFD's 9-1-1 dispatch center. Witnessing the driver being pulled out, he promptly called a direct line to an on-duty LAFD Captain at the dispatch center and provided the exact location of the incident. This was a great help since previous commuters contacting 9-1-1 provided different locations. This is an important reminder when calling 9-1-1 knowing your exact location or address expedites response. He also advised responding firefighters to access to the traffic filled incident by strategically and safely entering a nearby off-ramp, saving approximately five minutes. Miyagishima then started to assess the injured driver before additional help arrived. 

The man driving the car was transported to an area hospital with moderate injuries. Officer Thompson sustained first and second-degree burns, abrasions to his hands and knees and suffered from smoke inhalation during the rescue. Thompson was treated by LAFD personnel on scene and later received additional treatment for his injuries at an urgent care facility. There were no other injuries.

The trapped victim would not have survived if it had not been for the fortunate and brave intervention.
Dispatched Units: E39 E83 E37 E99 E108 RA39 LF39 RA78 LF88 BC10
Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Christmas Tree Fire Destroys Northridge Home

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 |

NORTHRIDGE - Los Angeles Firefighters battled a Major Emergency Structure Fire that destroyed a family's two story house on Christmas Eve.

On December 24th, 2013, just before two AM, the Los Angeles Fire Department was called to 19641 West Citronia Street. Firefighters arrived quickly to find a nearly 4,000 square foot home fully involved in flames.

During the aggressive fire attack the intense flames caused a partial roof collapse. 108 Firefighters all under the command of Battalion Chief Thomas Ottman had the blaze completely extinguished in just 41 minutes.

The fire displaced a mother and her 2 children who were away at a family gathering when the fire occurred. Although, the home was a complete loss, no one was injured during the fire.

Investigators determined the source of the fire to have been a dry Christmas tree, which had been purchased before Thanksgiving and had not been watered. This tragic loss is an important reminder of Holiday and Christmas tree fire safety.

LAFD Firefighters from the local fire station delivered toys to the Northridge Family to replace presents destroyed by the fire.

The monetary loss was estimated at $700,000 ($500,00 structure & $200,00 contents).

Dispatched Units:E70 RA70 E107 RA107 E104 E296 T96 EM15 BC15 E8 E103 E273 T73 BC17 RA104 E28 E287 T87 DC3 EM17 BC10 T88 E288 UR88 E89 UR89 RA89 RA889 BC14 AR2 T93 E293 T87 E287 T90 E290 E98 E105

Submitted by Katherine Main, Spokesperson Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Releases Surveillance Video of Van Nuys Arsonist

Friday, December 20, 2013 |

VAN NUYS - Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section have released surveillance video of an arsonist responsible for a fire in the central San Fernando Valley.

The intentionally set non-injury blaze occurred on the evening of September 29, 2013 in the 14600 block of Aetna Street in Van Nuys, as seen in the interactive map below:

If you have information about the person seen in the video - please call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section directly at (213) 893-9850. Should you witness someone actively committing the crime of arson, call 9-1-1.
LAFD Investigators welcome your help: Kindly share a link to this message by e-mail or social media or embed the video on your Facebook page, website or blog. We welcome you to join the conversation using the hashtag #LAarson
Learn more by following @LAFDArson and visiting

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Southern California Toy Drives: It's Not Too Late!


Some of you ask why members of the Los Angeles Fire Department are so passionate - some say emotional, about our Spark of Love Toy Drive for needy children.

Please wonder no more...
Toy Drives: It’s Not Too Late!
By Kevin Ott

Here’s my favorite personal Christmas story: One year when I was very young, I got a package of cheap off-brand glow-in-the-dark action figures. They had no faces and chintzy vinyl capes. For reasons I still can’t explain, I loved these guys — I played with them until their capes frayed and their joints (I think there was a grand total of, like, four on each figure) loosened.

Years later, when I was out of college, my single mom mentioned to me that her hardest Christmas was the one where she had just lost her job and was forced to go on welfare. She hadn’t been able to afford Christmas presents for me, so as soon as she got her first welfare check she went directly to the toy store and made the entire thing stretch as far as she could. That was the year she got me the glow-in-the-dark action figures. I don’t think she ever knew that I loved them so much.

So why am I telling you this? Because there are still plenty of kids out there whose parents can’t even afford the cheapest plastic aliens, and that’s where we come in. There are tons of toy drives and holiday charity events going on all around LA...

...Run by the LAFD, the Spark of Love toy drive collects new, unwrapped toys or sports equipment at every fire station in Los Angeles. Click here to find your local firehouse.
As your firefighters, we often see things we don't want to talk about. On other days, we experience things we just can't find the words for.

Thank you Kevin, for so eloquently expressing the value of this well-run program. Though largely staffed by off-duty firefighters and their families, it is powered by the generosity of people just like you.

It's not too late to make the magic happen!

Firefighters will gratefully accept your generous donation of a new unwrapped toy or sporting good at any Neighborhood Fire Station through the holidays... but please don't wait! For more information, please call the Spark of Love hotline:

(213) 847-3816 will be gratefully accepted through New Years Day, but please don't wait!

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Stuff-A-Bus in Canoga Park to Support the 'Spark of Love' Toy Drive

Friday, December 13, 2013 |

Please join Los Angeles Firefighters in the west San Fernando Valley, as we gather with friends and family at the Westfield Topanga Mall to "Stuff-A-Bus" full of new unwrapped toys and sporting goods to help the Spark of Love Toy Drive for needy children:

Friday, December 13, 2013
4:30 AM to 6:30 PM
Westfield Topanga Mall
6600 Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Canoga Park, CA 91303

The success of Spark of Love relies upon the goodwill of people like you. Your donation of a new unwrapped toy or sporting good will be gratefully collected for local distribution to a needy child - who would otherwise go without a gift this holiday season.

In 2011, with your help we stuffed five buses. In 2012 you helped fill a record seven and 1/2 buses, each one holding at least 4,000 toys. With your assistance this year...?

NOTE: If you were unable to join us for this event, there is still time to bring a new unwrapped toy or sporting good to any LAFD Neighborhood Fire Station in support of the Spark of Love Toy Program!

Do you have a favorite holiday story you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments below...

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Elf?

Monday, December 09, 2013 |

While a local priority in Los Angeles remains the LAFD "Spark of Love" Holiday Toy Program, we know many of you beyond our borders are seeking ways to spread holiday cheer.

Kindly allow us to introduce Elf Patrick Reynolds, a local resident and founder of a highly regarded organization celebrating it's tenth year supporting "Operation Santa", established 101 years ago by the United States Postal Service.

Learn more about the wonderful work performed by elves just like you at:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Fire Damages Van Nuys School Building Scheduled for Demolition

Saturday, December 07, 2013 |

VAN NUYS - It took the combined effort of more than ninety Los Angeles Firefighters nearly 45 minutes to extinguish a raging fire in a vacant private school building late Saturday morning.

Fire Consumes Abandoned Van Nuys School BuildingThe Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2013 to 14111 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, where crews arrived quickly on a day of cold temperatures and light rain to find heavy fire in the upper portion of an abandoned 2500 square-foot one story ranch house with a tall attic. The building had been converted to serve the needs of a former private school that developed over more than sixty years to closely surrounded the premises.

With flames appearing to fill a possible second floor and attic of the soon to be razed building, Battalion Chief Randy Beaty initiated a defensive strategy to prevent fire from gaining a foothold in the many adjacent structures, which were also scheduled for demolition.

A smooth transition to offensive operations was made within the first half-hour, as ninety-six firefighters were able to confine the flames to the structure of fire origin, and fully extinguish the blaze in just 43 minutes. No injuries were reported.

Fire loss was not estimable, as the heavily damaged building was soon to be demolished. The cause of the blaze was described as accidental, and attributed to a transient's warming fire in the once-home's vestigial fireplace, that quickly engulfed the large attic.

Dispatched Units: E290 RA881 E239 T39 RA39 E89 E60 T90 EM14 BC14 BC15 E100 E289 T89 E7 E90 DC3 E260 T60 EM15 BC9 E88 UR88 T27 E227 UR27 BC5 T88 E288 RA27 RA7 RA90 AR2 RA909 RT83
[ photos ]

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Firefighters Stress Portable Generator Safety


With weather having an impact on electrical service in many parts of our nation, some people are turning to portable electric generators as a source of temporary electricity for their homes.

This seeming convenience though, could itself be the source of disaster.

If not properly installed and operated, a portable generator can become a deadly device that kills via electric shock or carbon monoxide fumes.

Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes!

Firefighters encourage you to contact a licensed electrician to install your generator to make sure it meets all local codes. Never connect a generator directly to household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch professionally installed - and be sure to notify your utility, which may be required by law.

Power from generators connected improperly to household wiring can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs.

The Los Angeles Fire Department reminds you:

  • Generators can produce high levels of deadly carbon monoxide (CO) very quickly.
  • Never operate your generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space such as a patio, shed or garage; and when in use, place it far, far away from any structure housing people or pets.
  • Most of the serious carbon monoxide poisonings handled by Los Angeles Firefighters have been caused by generator exhaust fumes drifting into doors, windows, vents and crawl spaces.
  • Be certain to properly install household carbon monoxide detectors that are battery-powered, or have a battery back-up. Test the devices before you operate a portable power generator anywhere near your home.
  • If anyone starts to feel sick, dizzy or weak while a generator is in use, get them to fresh air immediately.
  • Read the owner's manual thoroughly and make sure your generator is properly grounded and maintained.
  • Store fuel for your generator remotely and safely. Turn the motor off and let the generator cool before refueling.
  • Make sure extension cords are rated for the load, free of cuts and worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.
  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment or appliances.
  • Keep the generator and your hands dry. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocution and electrical shock injuries.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times!
Remember: Electricity is a powerful tool, and odorless carbon monoxide fumes can quickly lull you to deep and deadly sleep!

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Interim LAFD Fire Chief Appoints New Community Liaison Officer

Thursday, December 05, 2013 |

LOS ANGELES - Interim Los Angeles Fire Chief James Featherstone is pleased to announce a key appointment to his executive staff, with the selection of Battalion Chief Stephen Ruda as the Los Angeles Fire Department's new Community Liaison Officer.
LAFD Community Liaison Officer Stephen Ruda
Working closely with Featherstone's Chief of Staff, Assistant Chief Ronnie Villanueva, Chief Ruda will fulfill a strategic leadership role in overseeing all aspects of LAFD community and media relations.

Remaining in a community and media relations role under Chief Ruda will be Captain II Jaime Moore, who continues in his daily role as a Public Information Officer (PIO) and Commander of the LAFD Community Service Unit, which includes three Firefighters on around-the-clock duty as Public Service Officers staffing the LAFD Emergency Public Information Center (EPI-Center).

The team now in place has more than 150 years of LAFD experience serving the people of Los Angeles.

“As a former PIO, it is my pleasure to return to a community and media relations position. As I start my 36th year with the LAFD it's a honor to represent the Department, its members, and the public on the issues and concerns that face the LAFD.” - Community Liaison Officer Stephen Ruda
Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Discusses Holiday and Christmas Tree Fire Safety


Your Los Angeles Fire department along with the U.S. Fire Administration provide facts about home holiday fires...

  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.
  • More than half (56%) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle. Even menorah holiday decorations have destroyed Los Angeles homes in the recent past
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.

Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be. This dramatic clip illustrates what happens when fire touches a dry tree and a properly maintained, well-watered tree.

Also, with this recent cold snap of holiday winter weather, please remember sure to keep your pets safe! Bring pets and animals inside before winter storms and never leave them tied up outside. Get more pet tips here. Want to share your own pet safety tips? Join a friendly Pet Preparedness community of practice here!

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

12 Point Checklist for Portable Heater Safety

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 |

With temperatures dropping across North America, many people are using portable electric heaters. While they can be an efficient way to warm a room or supplement central heating, portable electric heaters can also be an extreme fire or electric shock hazard if not used properly.

The Los Angeles Fire Department joins the U.S. Fire Administration and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) in sharing these 12 tips for using portable electric heaters safely:

  • Read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels before using your heater.
  • Never leave an operating heater unattended. Always unplug the heater when not in use.
  • Unplug the heater by pulling the plug straight from the outlet. Inspect the power cord regularly, and never use a heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician to replace the outlet.
  • Never use a power strip or extension cord to power your heater. Overheating of the power strip or extension cord can easily cause a fire.
  • Do not plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as your heater. Doing so can overheat the circuit and cause a fire.
  • String the included power cord above any rug or carpeting. Anything you place on top of a cord - including furniture, may damage it.
  • Keep combustible materials such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes, curtains, paint, gas cans and matches at least three feet from all sides of the heater. Do not block the heater's air intake or outlet.
  • Unless the heater is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, do not use in damp or wet areas. Parts in the heater may be damaged by moisture.
  • Place the heater on a level, flat surface. Only use a heater on tabletops when specified by the manufacturer.
  • Heaters should be kept away from pets and children and never used in a child's room without constant adult presence.
  • Seniors, the disabled, those living alone or in student housing may be at increased risk due to careless or improper use of heaters. If you know someone in this risk category, please share this safety list and your concerns.
You can receive AHAM's free "Stay Safe!" brochure, by calling (888) 785-SAFE or visiting:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Quickly Extinguishes Deadly Baldwin Hills Apartment Fire


BALDWIN HILLS - Los Angeles Firefighters (LAFD) found an adult female without vital signs of life while extinguishing an apartment fire early Wednesday morning.

Just after 2:00 AM on December 4, 2013, LAFD arrived at 3901 Ursula Avenue to find a two-story "O"-shaped, 1960's garden style apartment building called La Ronda Cooperative with light smoke showing.

Firefighters raced in the apartment with hose-lines to battle the flames, which they quickly controlled. During a systematic search of the fire unit, firefighters sadly discovered a female that was determined dead. No one else was injured.

A well coordinated effort by 41 Los Angeles Firefighters, under the command of Battalion Chief Andrew Wordin, extinguished the blaze in just 13 minutes. The flames were confined to the unit of origin before they could spread to additional attached apartment units.

The unit was fitted with functional smoke alarms, a security door and window security bars. The 54-year-old dwelling was not equipped with residential fire sprinklers.

A positive identification of the deceased woman to include her age, as well as the cause, time and manner of her death, will be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

A preliminary estimated monetary loss from the fire is $12,000 ($10,000 structure & $2,000 contents). The cause of the early morning blaze remains under active investigation by the LAFD Arson Section and appears to be suspicious in nature.
Dispatched Units: E294 E94 T94 RA894 E68 RA68 E34 T66 E266 EM9 BC18 BC11 E15 AR1 AR2
Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

Firefighters Warn of Carbon Monoxide, the 'Silent Killer'

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 |

You’ve heard the reports on the news...

  • "Firefighters discover couple dead from gas heater fumes."
  • "Family found unconscious, overcome by carbon monoxide."
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in America. CO is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that can lead to brain damage and even death.

Known as 'The Silent Killer', CO is produced whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned - and can be produced by common household appliances. Sources of CO poisoning can include:
  • Gas water heaters
  • Home heating systems
  • Kerosene space heaters
  • Grills, hibachis or portable gas camp stoves
  • Idling motor vehicles
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Propane-fueled forklifts
  • Gas-powered concrete saws
  • Indoor tractor pulls
  • Swimming behind a motorboat
  • Spray paint, solvents, degreasers, and paint removers
The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning can mimic the flu, and you may not be inclined to think of CO poisoning. At a low level exposure, shortness of breath, nausea and headaches are common. At a moderate level, victims experience more severe headaches, dizziness and confusion, and often become nauseated or faint. The longer the exposure to CO, the greater the chance of death.
If You Think You Have Been Exposed to Carbon Monoxide:
  • Move quickly to fresh air, away from the suspected source of exposure.
  • Seek medical care in a hospital emergency department or contact your doctor.
  • If severe, life-threatening symptoms are present, call 9-1-1.
  • Get a qualified professional to investigate and repair the source of CO.
What can you do to protect yourself?
  • Never use a grille or any type of barbecue indoors.
  • Never burn any type of charcoal indoors.
  • Have a certified technician service your home heating system each year.
  • Be extremely careful with portable generators.
  • Do not allow your vehicle to idle in an enclosed space or near a door or window to your home.
  • Get a Carbon Monoxide Alarm!
Though preventing CO from becoming a problem is your best bet, Carbon Monoxide Alarms are both affordable and widely available. Do some research on alarm features and don’t select solely on the basis of high or low cost. For safety sake, please follow the DO’s and DON’Ts listed above.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms are required by law in most States.
For additional information about Carbon Monoxide:

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department