Fire and firefighters are in the news today, as hundreds of brave firefighters risk their lives to battle the flames trying to consume the irreplaceable and magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
These days, fire and firefighters are often in my thoughts, both as a member of the board of directors of the Orange County Fire Authority and as the mother of a 20-year-old who is studying firefighting at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and serves as an EMT and member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough HazMat Team.
In fact, fire and firefighters should be in all our thoughts, as California’s wild land fire season expands to year-round, and more and more Californians live on the very edge of extreme fire-danger zones.
The truth is, fires in California have become more frequent and more dangerous, and Californians have never relied more on well-trained, well-equipped, well-led and brave firefighters risking all to keep our lives and property safe.
The California Firefighters Memorial is located on the grounds of the California state capitol in Sacramento and honors the more than 1,300 California firefighters who have died in line of duty or of other duty-related illness or injury.
The California Firefighters Memorial was unveiled on April 6, 2002, carrying the names of 855 fallen California firefighters. Since the unveiling, more than 400 names have been added at annual Memorial ceremonies.
The Memorial has three components that work together seamlessly:
The Memorial Wall: A two-sided brushed limestone wall on which is inscribed the names of every firefighter who has died in the line of duty since California became a state. The wall is flanked by bronze statues of firefighter “turnouts” – the protective garments worn by firefighters in action
“Fallen Brother”: A bronze statue, directly adjacent to the wall, that honors our fallen heroes. It depicts an anguished firefighter removing a lifeless colleague from the flames. The statue was created by Jesus Romo, a retired Sacramento firefighter
“Holding the Line”: A bronze statue depicting four firefighters in action working a hose line. The statue was created by artist Lawrence Allen Noble.
In addition, the California Fire Foundation invites you to join in memorializing the sacrifice and dedication of California’s fallen heroes at the 17th Annual California Firefighters Memorial Ceremony on September 28, 2019, at 11:30 a.m.
This day is dedicated to remembering those killed or injured in road crashes, as well as to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police, fire and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury.
Unfortunately, this Day of Remembrance has increasing significance for the City of Irvine.
At our most recent City Council meeting, residents told us about witnessing extremely dangerous driving behavior and very close calls involving their children.
I am sure you also witnessed close calls or have heard similar frightening stories from your neighbors.
I am very concerned — as are others — that we will see an increase in serious injuries and deaths in Irvine because a motorist did not obey a stop sign, respect a pedestrian’s right of way, or pay attention.
I have set a meeting with our Chief of Police to step up traffic enforcement and to make sure that our police have every resource they need to ensure that our city is safe for children, other pedestrians, and bicycle riders.
I will be discussing numerous ways to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety, especially for children, including stepped-up enforcement, more illumination of crosswalks, and better lighting and visibility at stop signs. Your suggestions are invited.
The truth is, we can greatly improve the safety of our streets simply by being better and more respectful drivers, and by all of us — drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — following the rules of the road.
The most common cause of vehicular accidents is driver behavior, especially distracted driving. In fact, distracted driving accounts for an astonishing 95 percent of all auto collisions. According to the National Safety Council, using a mobile phone while driving now the most prevalent cause of a traffic collisions.
Globally, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 15-29 and claim more than 1.25 million lives each year. In the United States, motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers, representing over one-third of all teenager deaths.
Come meet your local Irvine Orange County Firefighters!
On Saturday, October 13, OCFA’s Fire Station Open House will give visitors an opportunity to meet and greet their neighborhood firefighters, tour their local fire stations, and learn about ways they can stay fire safe.
It will also be a great opportunity to thank your firefighters for their everyday heroism and tell them that you appreciate their bravery and professionalism.
The OCFA Fire Stations in Irvine participating in the Open House on Saturday, October 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. are:
Station 4, 2 California Ave., Irvine CA 92612
Station 26, 4691 Walnut Ave., Irvine CA 92604
Station 27, 12400 Portola Springs, Irvine CA 92618
Station 36, 301 East Yale Loop, Irvine CA 92604
See you there!
P.S. Did you know that every OCFA Fire Station has a special nickname? When you visit, ask them the nickname of the Fire Station and why it’s called that name.
You are invited to attend the multi-city Point of Dispensing (POD) exercise at the Great Park and help OC cities plan for emergencies and practice the rapid distribution of medicine in the event of a public health outbreak.
In a real emergency, PODs save lives by getting needed medication and supplies to our community quickly and efficiently.
The Great Park POD exercise on Thurs. October 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. will offer both a walk-up option and a drive-thru option. During the event, participants will be directed through the exercise by local police and fire authorities and will be asked to complete a brief intake form, proceed to a nurse or nursing student who will distribute exercise materials, then be directed through the exit station.
Participants will receive a commemorative tote bag, local emergency planning materials, information about the AlertOC emergency notification system, and a free holiday pumpkin!
OCFA’s station Open Houses will give visitors an opportunity to meet and greet their neighborhood firefighters, tour their local fire stations, ride a fire engine, see fire suppression techniques, see rescue dogs in action, and learn about ways they can stay fire safe.
It will also be a great opportunity to thank your firefighters for their everyday heroism and tell them that you appreciate their bravery and professionalism in containing recent fires, such as the Holy Jim Fire!
Irvine Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris and Councilmember Melissa Fox at OCFA Open House.
This year, the Orange County Fire Authority will host two Open House events:
Saturday, October 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at OCFA Headquarters, and
Saturday, October 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, at participating OCFA stations.
OCFA Headquarters is located at s located at 1 Fire Authority Road, Irvine, CA 92602 (off Jamboree Road).
The event schedule for the OCFA HQ Open House on Saturday, October 6, includes:
11:00 a.m. — Kidde Fire Extinguisher Demonstration, Burn Demonstration.
11:45 a.m. — Urban Search and Rescue, Dog Demonstration.
12:30 p.m. — Vehicle Extraction Demonstration.
1:15 p.m. — Urban Search and Rescue, Dog Demonstration.
2:00 p.m. — Burn Demonstration.
The OCFA stations in Irvine participating in the Open House on Saturday, October 13, are:
Station 4, 2 California Ave., Irvine CA 92612
Station 26, 4691 Walnut Ave., Irvine CA 92604
Station 27, 12400 Portola Springs, Irvine CA 92618
There has been an amazing outpouring by the community in support of the ongoing fire efforts.
We have received many phone calls and emails asking how individuals and businesses can help.
They are asking what they can supply to us for our firefighting efforts.
We have been explaining that our needs are being met; however, some would still like to contribute, if this is the case here are some suggestions for you.
Donations of water, electrolyte drinks, and store-bought sealed items may be delivered to the Regional Fire Operations and Training Center at 1 Fire Authority Road, Irvine, CA 92602, during normal business hours; however, we will be closed this Friday (due to regular every other Friday closures), and our facility is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Encourage donors to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if there is any need for the type of donation they are considering, prior to coming in. Many of our supply needs have been met.
As the smoke from the Holy Jim Fire rises like a nuclear blast high above Saddleback Mountain’s Santiago Peak, looking up should be all that is needed to remind Irvine residents of the very real threat that wildfires present to our community.
The Irvine Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management is partnering with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) on a Wildfire Preparedness campaign that kicked off Tuesday. The outreach focuses on the “Ready, Set, Go” strategy championed by OCFA.
Irvine neighborhoods that are most at risk of wildfire will be targeted, including Turtle Rock, Shady Canyon, Quail Hill, Orchard Hills and Portola Springs.
Residents will notice banners carrying the “Ready, Set, Go” message, and those who live in at-risk areas will receive postcards in the mail offering tips on how to prepare for wildfire. The Irvine Police Department and OCFA will also utilize social media to spread the word.
The campaign emphasizes these key messages:
Ready: Protect your home ahead of time by taking steps to mitigate wildfire risk.
Set: Prepare for an emergency by assembling a bag of important items that you would need in the event of emergency. This includes clothes, medication and other personal items. Develop a family emergency plan that details escape routes and reunification plans.
Go: Leave early in the event of an emergency. Avoid traffic congestion and other complications by evacuating at the earliest opportunity. In the event of evacuation, all City of Irvine emergency shelters will have options available for pets.
Irvine residents are further encouraged to sign up to receive emergency notifications at AlertOC.org.
The campaign continues through October 31. Visit cityofirvine.org or ocfa.org/rsg for more information on wildfire preparedness.
IRVINE CITY COUNCILMEMBER MELISSA FOX SPEAKS AT GREAT PARK FIRE STATION DEDICATION CEREMONY
Irvine, CA – Irvine City Councilmember and Great Park Vice Chair Melissa Fox had the honor of representing the Great Park, the Irvine City Council, and the people of Irvine at the July 19, 2018, Dedication Ceremony for the opening of the new Orange County Fire Authority Fire Station in the Great Park.
In her Dedication Ceremony speech, Councilmember Fox praised firefighter heroes and the public safety partnership between the Irvine Police Department and the Orange County Fire Authority.
Councilmember Fox said:
The gentleman holding the scissors is retired TSGT Bob Blankman, a WW II Marine Corps veteran of the Battle of Guadalcanal, who was later stationed at MCAS El Toro. We were all honored to have him with us at the ceremony.
“Good morning. Thank you for your attendance and thank you to the Orange County Fire Authority for hosting this special Dedication Ceremony. And, particularly, congratulations to Chief Brian Fennessy and Division Chief Greg McKeown.
I am honored to be here opening this incredible new station. This station is the new home of Engine 20, Truck 20, Hazmat 20 and Battalion 10. Because of our size, Irvine has 2 battalions — Battalion 10 and Battalion 5 — with six stations in each. This station is the new home of Battalion 10.
It is also the new home of Hazmat 20. Hazardous Materials is a common call. It may be a lab spill, a fuel spill, an unknown odor or a potentially more lethal threat like an unknown white powder or terrorist threat. We are proud that this team makes its home here, in the heart of Irvine.
These are the men and women that you want to show up when you are having the worst day of your life. They do their job with compassion and the highest professionalism. Like many others, my family had to call 911. For about a year after that, my husband kept saying to firefighters, “Hey, I think you were the guy who saved my life.” But really, in those turnouts, you all pretty much look alike. In his bunker gear, can barely recognize my own son. You all look like heroes to me anyway.
It was my privilege to serve as a director on the OCFA Board and I hope to have the opportunity to do so again. Because public safety is a partnership. A partnership not just between Fire and Law Enforcement like with our Joint Hazard Assessment Team. But also between our City of Irvine, other member cities, our County, and the people we all serve.
When there is an emergency, like a wildfire, a plane crash, or a flood, we all come together: Fire, Law Enforcement, City and County Government. We have planned and trained and drilled and when we are called upon, we execute, and we do so with tremendous effectiveness. We can put together a command and communications center overnight. We can stop a wildfire burning an acre a second. We can save homes and businesses. We can save victims of heart attacks and traffic collisions. We can prevent drownings. We can find and rescue people in perilous conditions.
We need that same cooperation right now; the same esprit de corps, that same mission-driven thinking.
Here in Irvine we need to ask, ‘How do we best serve the people we have been tasked with protecting?’
This new Fire Station is a shining example of public service and of partnership. I know that we will move forward in that spirit and continue, together, to provide the highest levels of service to our community.
A video of the entire Great Park Fire Station Dedication Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting can be found HERE.
Join me at 10:00 a.m on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for the Dedication Ceremony of new Fire Station in the Great Park!
The new state-of-the-art station, Fire Station 20, replaces the temporary station that was opened on Trabuco Road in 2008.
Fire Station 20 houses Battalion 10, Engine 20, Truck 20, and Hazmat 20, and locates both fire and paramedic personnel close to the Sports Complex and other Great Park features and events.
Fire Station 20 is at Ridge Valley and Corsair, in the Western Sector of the Great Park, near the new Championship Soccer Stadium and the Great Park Community Ice Facility, scheduled to open in late 2018.
For more information, contact the Orange County Fire Authority at 949-526-1189.