Letter: A Better Response

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Letter to the Editor

At Saturday’s historical, packed-house town hall with Fire Chief Daryl Osby and his lieutenants, more than an hour and a half was spent discussing the “perfect storm” of factors and priorities that kept the fire department from saving very many homes in Malibu in the November fire. Every explanation and rationale of the day were conveyed. Yet, not a single time during the entire talk was it mentioned that they could’ve done better if only their fire trucks could get in a narrow driveway. Not once was there any comment of water flow. You never heard, “If only the water flow in the neighborhood was better, we could’ve saved more homes.” In fact, the chief and his people put on a clinic confirming that their extensive fire codes and restrictions for permitting homes are essentially worthless. 

Far more time was spent ignoring or deflecting the many stories from the crowd of firemen purposely not putting out fires. Effectively, everything the fire department demands of the public were shown to be inconsequential. Everything the public demands of the fire department was greatly shown to be an utter failure.

Then the discussion of Osby turned toward the rebuilding process and permitting, where he repeatedly spoke of being “reasonable” in allowing homes to be rebuilt. Mr. Osby is an extremely powerful man over his subjects, whom he insists he cares about. He and his department can dictate whether they have a house or not, and dictate what extra costs and burdens his department may command from the unfortunate people whose homes he did not protect on Nov. 9. He is like a king from a medieval time that chooses the level of misery and building costs of his subjects. He states he wishes to be “reasonable” about this.

Here is what is reasonable: Since it was proven that all fire department codes and regulations were worthless while homes burned down, they should be worthless while homes get rebuilt. All rebuilds should get a complete waiver from all fire department codes, period. The people of Malibu must demand that (in the name of “reasonable”), and the city and county governments must ensure it. What is reasonable is for the fire department to have no voice after their proven worthless fire codes did nothing to help a single home Nov. 9. The fire department has little credibility in Malibu, and that hardly changed Saturday. 

Rick Wallace