Build Malibu Better: Malibu West Prepares for Another Fire Season

Paul Grisanti

Shortly after the Woolsey Fire, I learned about the Malibu West Fire Brigade in the Malibu West neighborhood where my wife and I had been remodeling the income property that is now our home. I attended some meetings and submitted my application and fingerprints to the LA County Sheriff’s Department for a background check. I am now among the group of new members.  

On Saturday, July 18, the Malibu West Fire Brigade met to get some instruction and hands-on practice.  We were instructed by our training officer, retired Santa Monica Battalion Chief Walter Shirk, about proper handling and connection of hoses and connectors and the importance of working in teams. We also heard from Dermot Stoker and Tim Biglow about the brigade’s history since its founding in 2012 and subsequent development including the generous support of the Malibu West HOA. Ample time was set aside for members of each team to practice unloading the hoses, connecting them to the hydrant and each other and swiftly deploying them to the practice location as a team member pressurized the lines. The nozzle and hose men practiced the teamwork required to manage the force generated by the water and control the nozzle. Just as importantly, we practiced coiling the hoses neatly in a fashion that protects the metal connectors and uncoils smoothly in a hurry when needed.

The meeting was joined by Todd and Arden Prince of Arson Watch who observed and got a little hose time as well. Technically, the Malibu West Fire Brigade is part of Arson Watch under the supervision of the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Mayor Mikke Pierson pitched the free services of the City’s Fire Liaison Jerry Vandermeulen, who will be scheduling a day in our neighborhood to visit individual houses and point out areas for improvement.

The brigade’s Woolsey Fire success in limiting the damage to 21 dwellings validated the foresight of the founders and the investment by the members and the HOA. In the aftermath of Woolsey, Brigade members including Mikke Pierson spread the word to other neighborhoods and a Point Dume Fire Brigade now exists as well. Keegan Gibbs and Matt Nosbusch came by the training to show us the brush truck they have purchased and to demonstrate a portable bladder and pump system they have developed to quickly convert a normal pickup into a 250-gallon firefighting machine.

A representative of the “On-Call” firefighter program from Corral Canyon born out of the ’07 fire shared their current plans.

What is your neighborhood doing to prepare? Let’s make all our houses a little more defensible.

Regarding COVID-19, Kal Klatte’s most recent charts reveal a less than desirable week in national COVID-19 news as the seven-day average number of daily cases diagnosed reached a new high of about 65,000 per day. The seven-day moving average of deaths seems to be leveling off with a little fewer than 800 per day. That’s where we were for the first time on June 17.  I hope it doesn’t get any higher. 

The percentage of known cases that result in deaths is falling and is now under 3.8 percent.  Two months ago, it was 6 percent.

Reports surfaced last week that several states have inflated their case numbers by reporting each positive test a patient takes in the course of treatment as a new case. One report described a patient who was tested positive 15 times in the course of her recovery and each time was reported as a new case. If this is widespread, the accuracy of all COVID-19 statistics becomes less credible.  

Stay safe and wear a mask.