Thomas Fire

SAFER Monthly Meeting Minutes -May 2018

SAFER Meeting 5/18/18 

Start 0940 Gurrola presiding , thank you to VCFD Chiefs for refreshments, lunch provided (Taco Man) – Louis Garcia and VVG Truck and Western States Fire Equip.

Present: K. Gurrola, IPP, T. Duran, Treasurer, T. Rabe, Social Media Director, J.Wilkerson, Board Member, R. Szczepanek, Board member, plus 32 (see roster)

Absent: S.Quinn (excused), D. Weise (excused), C. Seely (excused), J.Sposato (excused)

Pledge and MOS

BC Rob Szczepanek provided introduction to facility

Intro BC McNeil to VCFD facility and department and topic “Thomas Fire”, multiple presenters, Latigo facility, (1/30 VCFD facilities) - Welcome


Business meeting:

                Intro of SAFER, since 1976

                OSHA – no report, Tony gave overview of what to expect when an inspector arrives.  Keith talked about a recent incident of a person who had “cramping”, hospital diagnosed “dehydration” don’t use “heat stress or heat exhaustion” in your reports of FF injuries or they will initiate a Cal/OSHA inquiry.

                Apparatus – (Rob) new seats and LED lights in their rigs.  Keith – Fillmore FD is going away from SCBA seats and practicing a “clean cab” environment.  Many depts. are getting away from in-seat SCBA. The need for rapid donning is rare vs. Cancer exposure is quite high.  Jim recommended to get away from cloth seats for ease of cleaning.

                PPE/NFPA – Dick absent, Jason Rangel – specking out new uniform. SAFER to host PPE symposium maybe spring time.  Putting together a committee to put that together.  Resurrection of PPE on Traffic Collision incidents.  Most wear turnouts, made for structural FF.  Is there another garment better suited and less expensive?  May need a subcommittee to evaluate.  Dual compliant, EMS (Blood Borne Pathogen) compliant and flash fire protective.  Some agencies already using something.  Options are available.  Time to revisit, $$$ a factor.  NFPA 1851 going thru rewrite.  Will be a great document, 3 parts involved, one will be “onscene mitigation” also verified ISPs.  Higher level of evaluation.  How many departments are cleaning in house?  Need to go to ISP and ask if they are complying with clean regulations.  Will come out at end of 2018.  AB 2146 will begin (all about carcinogen consideration)

                Case study – VCFD FF went to TC, did not clean Turnouts before going to structure fire and turnouts ignited.  Rob S. also mentioned an incident where the left radio pocket burned away

                Vendor Rep – No report, next week EMS SHOW in Palm Springs area.

                Treasurer – Balances provide.  Dues payment available at meeting.  KG encouraged department membership.

                Technology – website being updated, FB and Twitter.  Travel mugs now available for sale on website.  FB – please “like”, Twitter – No Good, Instagram – OK

The Thomas Fire - 2018

The Thomas Fire - 2018


Presentation: DC John McNeil,  Thomas Fire 2017 this presentation to be adapted to what safer is more of interest (Vendors, FF safety, etc.)

                Multiagency – over 8k FF and staff at top of incident

                VCFD Op area includes all agencies involved ( LE, fire, Feds, etc.) No boundaries – closest resource concept.   Not so in "old days”  now an integral part of all large incidents.  Partner agency relationships.

Ventura County Operational Area

Ventura County Operational Area


                2 Public agency dispatch centers – Ventura County Sheriffs (LE) and FCC, communications always a factor in all incidents.  In this area this was successful as they work together on a regular basis daily.  In this multiagency incident they worked well together within the OP area.

                Partner Agencies began getting together well before the incident as they recognized potential weather.  Constant coordination created a mire successful outcome int his incident.  Coming together and talking before the incident occurs creates the potential for a better outcome.  Draw up agreements prior to the incident.

                Fire History:  Not new (map of area overlaid with current and previous fires).  Five-year Drought, “global warming” concept.  Largest fires in California, Ventura has had 3/top 11.

Ventura County Fire History

Ventura County Fire History


               Preparatory Actions:  Agency expectations, SA, exercise relationships, Investment in CICCS, Emergency plans manual.  Weather was expected, no real surprise when it arrived.  Some of magnitude was surprising, no past slides to compare with current situation.  Joint agency relationships are now common place and works well (challenge in the past).  CICCS qualifications played critical role placing qualified personnel in critical positions.  Must be committed well in advanced due to time it requires to become qualified.  Great investment!  BC Fred Burris first onscene and worked with people he recognized due to past training and exercises and incidents.  Successful in relation to no injuries, equipment protection, etc.  Emergency Plans allowed for appropriate pre-positioning before fire began.  Requires $$$ commitment by FC but paid off in this case.

                Initial actions:  Staffed up prior to, fire started Dec 4 at 6:30 (after dark) 

                Fire Progression – 63, 000 acres in first day, 32, 900+ acres on second day , peak at Dec 10th at 60,800 ac, lasting thru Dec 24th fro total of. Access was challenging as main road to Ojai (second start) was impacted, Hwy 150.

                Branch Mgt – Thesis by Mike Rohde, 122 pages with 15 Page summary.  Published in FH magazine and NFA curriculum.  Not used by many agencies.  ICS normally builds from “bottom – up” this concept turns on that.  Succession plan is critical for all agencies. KG given credit for foreseeing the need for the qualification of personnel before CICCS.  Departments have to commit to training their people in incident team training, FTX and incidents outside of local jurisdictions.  Newly hired talent often come with varied experiences that should be captured and used by the agencies that hired them. Use the talents that your personnel bring with them.

                There were situations where personnel were sent where they would be dependent 100%  on their PPE and safety gear for their survival.  Duty to act requires action even when risk is high.  Confidence in PPE is paramount!  Priority is to save lives, including the evacuation of personnel within apparatus.  Message for evacuation must get out early (only one part) executing the request is the key piece.  Success of execution was due to collocating key personnel (LE) in CP to execute the order.  Use the PA to get the word out, clear direction to the public were most successful.

                Lessons Learned:  Early resource orders, Draw your box quickly, regardless of fire conditions, Write on the map and communicate the box, Branch early, Gauge rates of spread to the impacts, early evacuation orders, Ability to disengage and redirect, Communicate mission, overall purpose and expected results, Don’t wait to bring partners into the the plan.

Lessons Learned

Early resource orders

•Draw your box quickly, build it regardless of fire conditions

•Get info down on the map and communicate the box

•Branch early

•Gauge the rates of spread to the impacts

•Early evacuation orders

•Ability to disengage and redirect

•Communicate the mission, the overall purpose and the expected results

•Don’t wait to bring partners into the plan

Final Tally

281,893 acres

1063 structures destroyed

280 structures damaged

2 fatalities

BC Mike Weisenburg talked about presentation re: “Oil Fire Seeps” oil fire subsurface and how they were able to control. 

Tour of facility

Round Table:

Keith problems with Drip-Drop – deal with individual's fitness

Tony ASTI continues to provide training to refrigeration and agriculture industry  personnel, as well as, emergency responders for Anhydrous Ammonia leaks.  LACoFD to accept applications in June.

Oxnard FD – All going well

Steve Hoyle – CA Fire Museum San Diego

Jeff Wilkerson - ret CPFD, VP with museum

Jason Rangel VCFD – gross decon policies, researching respiratory protection in wildland

Hector Garica – looking at hoods, prevent from vetter (?)

Christina Hero WipeRes (decon wipes) launched last October . Lab testing behind wipes proving efficacy

Tyler Miller VCFD – fire controller with wildland division.  PPE during saws nicked himself but chaps saved him from serious injury.  "Get rid of “two-strap” chaps" - K. Gurrola

Steve Swindoll VCFD –

Steve Cooley Cobra litter – good for victim extraction and moving equipment up to 800 #

Mike Schlaggs – inventor of COBRA litter, stretcher add on. Adding super-fabric for motorcycle gear to prevent chaffing and rat damage (during storage).  All things developed through FF input

Amir – Skylift (UAV) ran tests with SDFD with delivery of hose packs.  Cut time in half.

KG – next month LAFD meeting and UAV presentation.

Jim Evans (solutions safety) – gross decon kits exploding across the country.  Take look at configuration – 'square instead of round' fit better in rigs.  Huge trend in used turnout gear and hose being turned into inside plastic gear (souvenir items).  Tests run which turn water black, these products are being taken into homes.  Coasters made of old fire hose turned water black.  CLEAN YOUR GEAR!

Bestways LS – ERIC

Louis Garcia – Weastern fire apparatus – issues with evacuation requires building relationships prior to evacuation need

Tracy Rabe - Linegear – new Mystery Ranch modular fire web gear.

Kelly Witt - Workrite – based in Oxnard, Oct 1 purchased by BF 1.  Workrite will remain in tact and in good hands. HQ moving to Nashville, Oxnard plant will shut down but product will continue.  Kelly will continue to be SoCal representative.

Steve Hanks SCOTT rep for SoCal – released new SCBA,built on trusted features with slight tweaks.  New harness now removable without tools for easy cleaning.

Pete Jensen VCFD HMC – nothing to add, exercise May 22nd with Port Hueneme. May 23rd is MAST EXPO in Pt Hueneme corporate office, designed for vendors mainly related to port security.

Chuck Pike VCFD

James Allen warehouse sup for VCFD

Jim Roth Storm King Mtn tech – fire barrier curtains, during evacuations in Australia, eight civilians sheltered inside fire engines with fire curtains survived.  Rain dance aerial incendiary machine in UAV recently approved in Australia.  Working to get approved in USA.  Looking for instructors for wildland fire instructors per NCWG standards. Beginning a new fire academy

Charlie Turansky with LN Curtis – new wildland, particulate hoods, taskforce tips has decon kit (new) LACOFD testing

Rob Szczepanek

Rob McNeil – long duration effort to decon during long term incidents will be helpful.

Shawn Feeney VCFD IT –

Jeff Shade VCFD

Bill Ward – Pump Pods – Firehouse world delivered fire unit and full demo, featured in CSFA magazine.  Glendale just submitted orders.  FFW meeting introduced dip tank and portable cistern system

Rick Holman ALLSTAR –

Mike Weisenberg VCFD – Should be seeing more of VCFD personnel at SAFER meetings, FF Academy going thru now, new BC test, engineers academy in September, captains academy in fall, gearing up for new fire season.  Welcoming Santa Paula into VCFD mold. 

Presentation mug to DC McNeil by Keith

Lunch, vendor visit and tour of facility.

Meeting adjourned 11:45 hours.

Next meeting:  LAFD at Frank Hotchkins.


Respectfully submitted,

Tony Duran, Treasurer, acting secretary