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All Those Sirens: Inside an LAFD Response

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, September 18, 2006, at 10:29PM
P1000957.JPG Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This evening I was biking back from work around 7:30pm when I got passed by four fire trucks. They were all heading to the Van Nuys Building at 210 W. 7th street. Already several other trucks were on the scene. In all I figured there were probably ten trucks ready to battle a blaze. Five minutes later, though, they were all heading home. I wondered what sort of call could rally such a large response but be done so quickly.

Thankfully we don't have to just wonder about those sort of things here in LA. We've got an amazingly responsive and interactive fire department. The LAFD Blog is updated constantly and you can always find spokesman Brian Humphrey commenting on relevant posts in the Blog-LA-Sphere.

I emailed Brian and within hours had a full report. What kind of call scrambles twelve LAFD vehicles? Click "Read More" to find out.

Here's Brian's report:

The first alarm 'structure fire' response to 210 West 7th Street was the result of a 9-1-1 call from a Cingular Blue phone at 19:28:49 reporting smoke on the seventh floor of a residential high rise with a (largely?) senior citizen populace.

The response of eight firefighting units (a combination of Engines and Aerial Ladder Trucks), two ambulances, one Paramedic Captain and one Battalion Chief (making the response a grand total of one dozen LAFD vehicles) is typical for our department to such a high risk property.

The first fire companies arrived on scene in less than two minutes to report a twelve story pre-1960 residential high rise with 'nothing showing' (from the street). As the remaining resources arrived, the first arriving crews from Fire Station 9 climbed the stairs to the 7th floor to discover 'food on the stove'. Those FS9 lads and lasses handled the blaze and smoke by themselves, with most LAFD resources leaving the scene at 19:39. The LAFD remained at the location until 19:55. I'm pleased to report there were no injuries.

The first LAFD firefighters to arrive were from Central City's Fire Station 9 at 430 East 7th St, long considered the busiest Fire Station in the nation. The alarm bell there sounds more than sixty times a day for the multitude of companies who respond from that facility.

I hope this information helps.

While people from Los Angeles often take-it-on-the-chin about the City they proudly call home (with others needlessly ribbing them about smog, traffic, schools and crime), the truth is that Angelenos NEVER have to worry about someone poking a finger in their chest telling them they have a second-rate Fire Department. Not in the past, not now, and not ever.

He's right about that. I never cease to be amazed at how quickly LAFD is on the scene when called. They don't mess around when it comes to how they prepare for a potential fire situation.

We had a small kitchen fire in my building back in May and LAFD was here right away with several trucks and a full response. They had the situation taken care of before my cousin (who was staying in my apartment) even knew that the fire alarm was going off.

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