Preparedness Takes Center Stage at City’s Third Safety Expo

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Webb Muir, age 3, sits in a fire truck at the City of Mailbu Public Safety Expo at Malibu City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 2. 

Creating a defensible home environment and evacuation plan is critical, especially during fire season. 

To cap off National Preparedness Month, residents gathered at Malibu City Hall on Saturday for the city’s third Public Safety Expo. The free event was an opportunity for participants to ask experts questions about how to prepare for wildfires, get tips on emergency preparedness and see ways to protect their families during life threatening events. 

Guests included the Malibu CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Arson Watch members, LA County Animal Care and Control, Allstate Insurance and SoCal Gas Company. 

Malibu CERT leader Richard Garvey said the event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but decided to organize the event this year to continue informing the community about how to stay safe during wildfire season.

“We had a great turnout for vendors, even people we weren’t expecting. We saw the SWAT vehicles and all the other vehicles and it was so nice for them to come down and support the community,” Garvey said. “So, it’s nice for the people and the kids, especially, to see this stuff up front and in person, and we as our CERT Team, we are very happy to support the city and the community any way we can.” 

The first Public Safety Expo was organized in October 2018, just a month before the Woolsey Fire burned hundreds of homes across the western half of Malibu. As time goes on, the fire continues to serve a reminder to the community to be prepared for the worst.

Los Angeles Fire Department Station 88 Captain Alex Adalla demonstrated how to use the fire equipment and answered questions about what the fire department does for the community. 

“Whatever the problem is, we have the ability to work through the problem and arrive at a solution.” Adalla said. “We’re living in a day and age where fire season is year long now and being prepared—having belongings ready to go—that’s going to be a big benefit when time is of the essence.” 

Adalla shared his experience with the Woolsey Fire and said it was, “a perfect chain of events.” 

“Winds, weather, fuel, topography—everything came together at once, and we know how tragically, overall, the incident was,” Adalla said. “I think it comes down to knowing what kind of world that we’re living in, in terms of fire behavior and how active it can be.” 

Malibu Public Safety Specialist Sarah Kaplan said she was happy to see the community agencies come together.

“LA County brought their trailer and MRCA brought their trucks, so it’s just a really cool turnout,” Kaplan said. “The more people are able to prepare now and get their plans and strategies in place, the better off they’ll be.” 

CERT member Donna Gilbert hosted a crisis first aid class, demonstrating hands-on CPR and how to prepare for a disaster.

“The fire department knows that when there’s an earthquake here, there’s not enough people, not enough first responders to respond and so [ordinary] people are going to respond,” Gilbert said. “So, when the really bad thing happens, the community can step up and try to rescue people and save lives until the first responders arrive.”

Gilbert said the CERT course is more in-depth, but her crisis first aid course provides the average person hands-on experience such as how to control bleeding as well as what to include in an emergency kit. Gilbert said the participants asked important questions during the training course. 

“That’s what helps us with everything—the audience participation. I can cover a lot of things but if it’s something I am not answering for you, I’d like to be able to address it,” Gilbert said.

Pets, proper clothes and paperwork: Just some of the most important things experts suggest to consider first during an emergency evacuation.

Janet Rosenthal, president and CEO of the Family Wildfire Equipment, had a booth displaying and selling safety equipment and providing information on one potential option—in-ground fire safety shelters. 

“I’m bringing awareness to our product line, which is solely intended to save human lives in the event of an out-of-control wildfire,” Rosenthal said. “We don’t worry about litigation or saving property; we worry about protecting human life.”

Miguel Padilla, SoCalGas emergency management adviser, was educating and informing individuals on what SoCalGas does to help during wildfires.

“We track wildfires and make a plan; we know that when a wildfire is going towards a community, we make a plan to have gas services cut off before the fire reaches that community to prevent further damages,” Padilla said. “So, when the fire burns through, our crew will be out there to turn services back on accordingly.” 

The event capped off a month of virtual meetings organized during the month of September, which included firescaping workshops, a home hardening seminar and the annual community fire season briefing with guest speaker Drew Smith, a behavioral analyst for the LA County Fire Department.

For information about the City of Malibu’s wildfire preparedness efforts visit malibucity.org/prepmonth.