Join Me at OCFA’s “Day of Remembrance” Ceremony Honoring Those We Lost on September 11, 2001

The sky was falling and streaked with blood
I heard you calling me, then you disappeared into the dust
Up the stairs, into the fire . . . 
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love.

Please join me, the brave men and women of the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), and other members of the OCFA Board of Directors at a special “Day of Remembrance” Ceremony at OCFA Headquarters in Irvine, honoring those lost on September 11, 2001.

The ceremony will take place at 8:46 a.m. and is in memory of all of those lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Here is the official announcement of the ceremony:

“The tragic events of September 11, 2001 that occurred is a day in our nation’s history that we can never forget. On Wed., Sept. 11, 2019, the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) is commemorating the 18th anniversary of the horrific attacks of 9/11. Marking this important anniversary, OCFA will host the annual Remembrance Ceremony to honor the 2,977 men, women and children killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and aboard Flight 93. This year’s 18th anniversary is especially important to OCFA as we will dedicate a beam from the Twin Towers at our Regional Fire Operations Training Center (RFOTC).”

OCFA Headquarters is located at 1 Fire Authority Road, Irvine, CA 92602

Never forget.

I’m Honored to be Featured in Orange County Firefighter Magazine on the New Fire Museum in the Great Park!

As a long-time advocate for the California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center, and for preserving the heritage of our California firefighters in a permanent facility in the Great Park, I’m honored to be featured in the Summer 2019 issue of Orange County Firefighter, the official publication of the Orange County Fire Services Association, in an article highlighting Irvine’s agreement to designate 5 acres of the Great Park as the new home of the California Fire Museum – Safety Learning Center.

I’m excited to see recognition of the importance of fire safety and for preserving and celebrating our California firefighter heritage!

The mission of the California Fire Museum is:

  • To preserve and protect the history and heritage of the fire service in general, with special emphasis on the California Fire Services.
  • To collect, restore, preserve and exhibit apparatus, equipment, art and artifacts of the firefighting profession.
  • To provide life safety, fire safety and fire prevention education to the community.
  • To educate the public about firefighters, firefighting and emergency services.

You can learn more about the California Fire Museum and Safety Leaning Center at their website here and their Facebook page here.

You can MAKE A DONATION HERE.

Thank you!

Melissa

 

Watch Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy on Leadership: “Building a Mission-Driven Culture”

One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of as a public official is advocating as a member of the board of directors of the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) for the selection of Brian Fennessy as our new Fire Chief.

OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy is one of the nation’s most respected leaders in the crucial field of emergency management.

Recently, Fire Chief Fennessy was invited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to present his perspective on emergency management leadership to a national audience.

In his talk, titled “Building a Mission-Driven Culture,” Chief Fennessy shares the values of a mission-driven culture and the importance of intent-based leadership in emergency management.

Chief Fennessy also discusses his path to leadership and why he firmly believes that a mission-driven culture is critical to organizational success in times of chaos and during daily operations.

All of us involved in emergency response and management — first responders, public officials, citizen volunteers — will benefit from the wisdom and experience of OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy in this extremely timely talk.

Watch Chief Fennessy’s FEMA PrepTalk “Building a Mission-Driven Culture” here:

Irvine Agrees to Fire Museum and Safety Center at the Great Park!

As a long-time advocate for the California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center, and for preserving the heritage of our California firefighters in a permanent facility in the Great Park, I am thrilled that at my urging the Irvine City Council and the Fire Museum have now agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding for five acres in the Great Park to be designated by the City of Irvine for a 31,000 sq. state-of-the-art, interactive, sensory immersive Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center.

The mission of the California Fire Museum is:

  • To preserve and protect the history and heritage of the fire service in general, with special emphasis on the California Fire Services.
  • To collect, restore, preserve and exhibit apparatus, equipment, art and artifacts of the firefighting profession.
  • To provide life safety, fire safety and fire prevention education to the community.
  • To educate the public about firefighters, firefighting and emergency services.

You can read my blog post from August 2018 urging the Irvine City Council to support a Fire Museum at the Great Park HERE.

You can learn more about the California Fire Museum and Safety Leaning Center at their website Here and their Facebook page Here.

 

Join Orange County Fire Authority Girls Empowerment Camp Summer 2019!

As a Board Member of the Orange County Fire Authority, I am proud to help promote OCFA’s Girls Empowerment Camp!

Girls Empowerment Camp is a free two-day camp open to teenagers 14-18 that introduces them to the fire service and provides campers with a realistic, hands-on overview of firefighting.

The camp exposes the teens to all aspects of a fire service career beginning with requirements. The program also empowers campers with life skills and professional guidance that encourages them to pursue a career in public safety. The camp is being held at the Orange County Fire Authority Training Center, located on 1 Fire Authority Road in Irvine.

The free 2-day camp will feature six hands-on stations for the campers to gain familiarity and experience with fire service functions.

The activity stations will include: Ropes and Knots, CPR/First Aid, Aerial Ladder Climb, Confidence Course, Roof Prop and Hose Handling.

Thanks to the generosity of the Orange County Fire Authority Foundation, campers will receive an OCFA/GEC:

  • T-shirt
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Backpack.

The OCFA Foundation will also provide lunch, healthy snacks, and water for the campers.

What: OCFA Girls Empowerment Camp

When: Sat., Jun 29, 2019, 8:00 a.m. through Sun., Jun 30, 2019, 5:00 p.m.

Where: Orange County Fire Authority Headquarters, 1 Fire Authority Rd., D-Bldg, Classroom 4 & Drill Grounds, Irvine, CA 92602

Boys are welcome too!

UPDATE:

On Saturday, June 29, I visited the Girls Empowerment Camp at OCFA Headquarters with Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (AD 74).

I was tremendously impressed with the campers and their firefighter instructors.  Below are some photos of our visit:

OCFA Girls Camp 2019.03OCFA Girls Camp 2019.06OCFA Girls Camp 2019.04OCFA Girls Camp 2019.07OCFA Girls Camp 2019.05

 

 

Meet “Captain Cal” — CAL FIRE’s New Ambassador for Fire Safety and Prevention!

I had the opportunity yesterday in Sacramento to attend the introduction of “Captain Cal” — CAL FIRE’s Fire’s new ambassador for fire safety and prevention — to the people of California.

Chief Thom Porter, the Director of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, announced that Captain Cal’s primary mission is to help expand CAL FIRE’s educational outreach and to teach children about emergency preparedness, fire safety and prevention, safe and sane fireworks, and water safety.

Assemblymember Christy Smith, Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, pointed out that Californians need to be prepared for the “new normal” of a year-round California fire season.

Climate change, couple with population growth, has drastically increased the frequency, severity and destructiveness of wildfires. Ten of the 20 most destructive fires in California history have occurred since 2015.

In 2018 alone, more than 2 million acres of California’s forests burned. The combination of many years of drought followed by recent heavy rains means that we should expect more severe fires again this year.

Under Governor Gavin Newsom and Chief Porter, the State of California is significantly increasing it’s commitment to wildfire prevention and response, as well as education, in the face of these new conditions.

Captain Cal’s motto is “Safety starts with you!”

You can find out more about Captain Cal and fire safety at www.readyforwildfire.org.

 

 

June is PTSD Awareness Month: Tell Your State Legislators to Support PTDS Care for Police and Firefighters!

June is PTSD Awareness Month.

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is a condition that impacts many military veterans and first responders, such as police and firefighters.

PTSD can occur when someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.  This condition wasn’t always understood properly by the medical or military community. “Shell shock” and “battle fatigue” or “combat fatigue” were earlier attempts to define and understand the symptoms of PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and those who suffer from it were often maligned and stigmatized in popular culture after the Vietnam War, and many films and television shows featured antagonists or unsympathetic characters suffering from “Vietnam flashbacks” or other post-combat issues.

This misunderstanding of PTSD slowly began to change in 1980 when it was recognized as a specific condition with identifiable symptoms. As a result, since that time Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Today, the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are better understood, treatable, and recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a service-connected condition.

Now we are recognizing that because of the nature of their jobs, police and firefighters, like military combat veterans, are routinely exposed to traumatic events that can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For this reason, police and firefighters are twice as likely as the general population to experience PTSD.

Currently, however, it is often difficult for police and firefighters in California to receive the treatment that they need and deserve.

New legislation — SB 542 — would provide that in the case of certain state and local firefighting personnel and peace officers, the term “injury” also includes a mental health condition or mental disability that results in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress or mental health disorder that develops or manifests itself during a period in which the firefighter or peace officer is in the service of the department or unit.

This new legislation recognizes that “Today, a firefighter’s and law enforcement officer’s occupational stress is heightened in the face of California’s ‘new normal’ in which wildland and wildland-urban interface fires continue to annually increase as hot, dry, and wind-whipped conditions persist” and that “Last year’s fire storms were a brutal reminder of the ferocity of wildfires and how all too often on-duty firefighters and law enforcement officers incur the stress of witnessing victims flee while worrying about whether their own homes, and the safety of their families and neighbors, are threatened. When on duty, firefighters and law enforcement officers endure the added pain of driving through wreckage, seeing destroyed homes, or worse, the skeletal remains of family, friends, and neighbors burned to ash while not being able to stop to provide assistance or comfort.”

The legislation further recognizes that “While the cumulative impacts of these aggressive, deadly events are taking their toll, our firefighters and law enforcement officers continue to stand up to human-caused devastation and nature’s fury, but they are physically and emotionally exhausted” and that “California has a responsibility to ensure that its fire and law enforcement agencies are equipped with the tools necessary to assist their personnel in mitigating the occupational stress experienced as a result of performing their job duties and protecting the public.”

For these reasons, the intent of the legislation to “recogniz[e] the hazards and resulting trauma of these occupations and provide treatment and support for these public servants through presumptive care to our firefighters and law enforcement officers.”

As the daughter of a police officer and the mother of a firefighter, I strongly support SB 542 and it’s goal of providing treatment for police and firefighters suffering from service-related PTSD.

I urge everyone in California to contact their representatives in both the State Senate and the State Assembly to urge them to Vote Yes on SB 542!