Burbank Fire Dept. battles a house fire

Burbank Fire Dept. battles a house fire on the 900 block of W. Verdugo in Burbank on Saturday, June 18, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Fire officials say they plan to focus on education and training for the coming year, citing the importance of constantly improving service to residents.

“Every year, we go back to the beginning, we look at what we’ve been doing and how can we do it better,” Assistant Fire Chief Tom Lenahan said. “The better we’re trained, the better we serve, the better we are going to deliver.”

With the start of a new fiscal year, city departments have presented plans to the City Council on how they will operate more efficiently and how to enhance service.

Lenahan noted how fire codes have changed and how new technology is affected by those changes, requiring additional training.

Firefighters constantly work to not just understand the technology, but also to be aware of how to deal with that technology when things go wrong.

With hydrogen powered buses, for example, firefighters must be aware of how the buses operate, how to approach the buses and knowing where the bus danger areas are, Lenahan said.

As another of technology going wrong, he pointed out that new microphones were needed for radios.

“We would show up on scene and use water to put out a fire and the microphones were developing problems when they were getting wet,” Lenahan said. “The new generation mics have the ability to work through getting wet. That means better clarity and better communication — the key to an emergency.”

Lenahan said he is hopeful a disaster education video for fourth-graders will be available by spring.

The Fire Department would work with media companies and Burbank Unified School District officials to put together the video and a homework packet, he said.

“Education is good for everyone, but this is the earliest age group looked to [as being] the best to understand, retain and carry with them [the information for] the rest of their lives,” Lenahan said. “Those one or two things could save your life eventually.”

According to their annual work plan and goals submitted to the City Council, firefighters plan to work with city departments, nonprofits, volunteers and others in the community to improve disaster preparedness.

An emergency simulation drill is scheduled to take place Nov. 9 for about three hours to test the planning done so far. The drill will take place at the Emergency Operations Center on Ontario Street.

“Our goal here is that when the bell rings,” Lenahan said, “we want to have the most highly trained, highly proficient firefighters that will mitigate an emergency with the least amount of damage, injury or death to the public.”