Friday, September 4, 2009

One of Many

I have said before, that many people are ignorant as to how things are done, in things related to the Fire Department. People have many misconceptions, and I'd like to clear some up. Some of these things have come to light during the recent Brush Fires in the Los Angeles area.

One common mistake. There are MANY Fire Departments. They are NOT "related" to each other. For example, if I work as a cashier for Vons Supermarkets, I can work at almost any Vons Store, as long as there is room for me, and I am transferred there by the Vons Company. I can NOT be transferred to a Ralph's Supermarket store, even though they may have a store looking for a cashier. I would have to quit my job from Vons, and get hired by Ralph's. Do I make sense?

So it's the same with Los Angeles CITY Fire Dept, Los Angeles COUNTY Fire Dept, Vernon City Fire Dept, Glendale City Fire Dept, etc, etc, etc, etc........ All separate entities.

All are also paid by their employers. LA CITY Firefighters are paid by the City of Los Angeles, LA COUNTY Firefighters are paid by the County of Los Angeles, and CAL Fire Firefighters are paid by the STATE of California. And each entity gets it's money in different ways. So just because the State is doing bad, it doesn't mean LA County can't pay their own Firefighters.

Another misconception happened because of the Brush Fires that occurred in Palos Verdes, at the same time as the fires in the Angeles forest. The Brush Fire there was contained within days and put out very fast. Yet the fires in the Angeles forest is going to take about a month before it is out. Why? People complained that it was because the rich live in Palos Verdes, so they were given special treatment.

This COULD be true in some ways. Remember what I said about separate Fire Departments, and their separate budgets. If an area is "rich," they could pay more for their own Fire Dept. Therefore, have more Firefighters, better equipment, newer equipment, specialized equipment, and more equipment than other Departments.

But in reality, it was because of terrain and location. The area that is still burning is highly inaccessible, and VERY DRY. The area near Palos Verde is easily accessible, next to the Ocean and therefore NOT dry, making it more difficult to burn and spread. Not to mention the almost infinite supply of nearby water to put out any fires.

One other thing. Los Angeles CITY Fire was not involved in the firefight for a few days. The agency in charge of running the fire was CAL Fire. They made calls to other Depts first, as far as Sacramento, before calling the very local LAFD. Why? Who knows. When the LAFD were finally called, it was because some homes were threatened. That is the specialty of the LAFD, protecting structures. San Francisco FD denied a request to send a strike team, and finally sent one truck. Some thought it was because their Union was sympathetic to the LAFD Union, who are in a "fight" with LA City Mayor over their budget and pay, so they did not want to help Los Angeles. Again, who knows why, but the SF Mayor and the SF Fire Chief have the final say in that decision. Firefighters do not have that responsibility in making those kind of decisions.

I hope this clears up any misconceptions that you may have had.

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