Get to know: Brad Davis

Some people like to fall asleep to the sound of classical music. Every night, City of Malibu emergency services coordinator Brad Davis goes to bed to the buzz of a Los Angeles County Fire Department radio, knowing he may wake up to the news of a fire in Malibu, as he did in 2007 with the Malibu Canyon and Corral fires.

“I was the first one in the city to know about the fires,” he said. “I woke up in the middle of the night because I sleep with a fire radio next to the bed, so I knew as soon as the fire had broken out.”

Davis, as he would in any disaster, notified city manager Jim Thorsen and made his way from his Woodland Hills home to Malibu to set up the emergency operations center and began to send out emergency messages to the community. During an emergency like a fire, his biggest responsibility is spreading information.

“One of the most important things we can do is try to keep the public informed, so the telephone hotline, for example, we were updating that every 10 or 15 minutes with what you should do or where the fire is now,” he said.

On disaster-free days, Davis remains on the lookout for information about disasters, including small fires and traf fic accidents, so he can notify the public through Nixle, Facebook, Twitter and the emergency hotline (310.456.9982). He has a spacious office on the ground floor of City Hall that functions as his own control room, full of radios, fire and sheriff’s department scanners, televisions and computers that keep him informed.

To keep the noise manageable, Davis has a unique innovation that is rooted in his 30 years as a recording engineer.


“You’ll never see another emergency manager with a mixing console sitting on his desk,” he said. “It makes my life easier. With all these different things that I need to be listening to, I can pick and choose what I want to listen to.”

Davis grew up in New York City, the son of two members of a vocal group called The Honey Dreamers that appeared on radio and early TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show. He got his first job as an intern at their record label, A&R, and soon found himself a recording engineer working with big-name artists.

“The very first gig I ever did was with Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones,” he said. “I was still going to school at that point and I remember I actually skipped out on a final exam to do a session with Aretha and Quincy.”

He later lived in London and worked as the personal recording engineer to a producer and songwriter. They moved to Los Angeles together, but Davis decided he wanted a change.

“I was gradually getting more and more disillusioned with that line of work and I was kind of looking around for something else to do,” he said. “I wanted to start giving back to the community.”

He picked up emergency preparedness “as a hobby” while living in Topanga Canyon, but it quickly turned into a new career. He took training classes that landed him a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but he knew he wanted to be based at home in Southern California, so he struck a deal with Malibu’s previous emergency ser vices coordinator.

“I said, ‘If you let me learn about what you do on the local level, I will bring you the CERT program,’” Davis said.

He brought the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, which trains citizens to respond to disasters, to Malibu in 2002 or 2003, he said. When the previous emergency services coordinator left the city about 10 years ago, Davis was selected to fill his spot.

Now, in addition to keeping an ear out for emergencies, Davis is responsible for running the CERT program and thinking of new ways to help prepare the public for disasters. The city offers monthly CERT and first aid classes. He has also coordinated with community members to set up ham radios around the city as a backup method of communication in the city.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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