Build Malibu Better: Fire Department Brush Inspections

Paul Grisanti

Many of us have been talking recently about fire department brush inspections, asking, “Are any still being done?”

I started by calling Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office, which called Los Angeles County Fire Department Division 7 Acting Assistant Fire Chief Michael Brown, who kindly answered my questions. He also referred me to Deputy Chief Anthony Marrone, who also spent a half-hour with me and then suggested some of my questions would be best answered by Captain Arlin Kahan, who was also generous with his time. I would be remiss if I also didn’t thank Senior Secretary Melissa Lambert who straightened me out on everyone’s titles.

Each of the fire stations in Malibu has a list of properties that are “registered” for annual brush inspections of the urban/wildland interface. Stations Nos. 70, 71, 88 and 99 have a total of 4,111 homes on their registered list. So far this year, they have conducted inspections at about 4000 (plus or minus) of them, according to the records accessed by Kahan.

Brown disclosed that, this year, 130 of those inspected have been cited with additional work required and scheduled for reinspection. Properties are selected for the registered list by a reference from the brush clearance unit and the fire captain responsible for the area. The brush clearance unit is currently considering expanding their criteria for inclusion in the list. If you or your neighbor are concerned about your state of readiness, the fire captain at your local station can schedule an inspection of your property.

All of the fire department personnel above emphasized the necessity of proper clearance around your home and doing whatever you can to make your home ember proof.

A few months back, the City of Malibu hired retired chief Jerry Vandermeulen, formerly of Ventura County Fire, to assist Malibu residents with fire preparedness as Malibu’s fire safety liaison. In addition to meeting with HOA groups, he is also providing individual inspections to help you identify any excess fuel on your property and advise you how to make your home more resistant to wind driven embers. So far, he has provided more than 40 of these individual assessments at no cost to the homeowner. The recommendations are not citations or fix-it tickets. They are solely educational. Sign up for yours today by calling 310.456.2489 ext. 387.


Please support local restaurants. I went out to dinner last Saturday, which was overcast most of the day. It was obvious that autumn is here and the crowds are mostly gone. At Tra di Noi, we were told about a Monday night promotion aimed at local residents. Have a great meal and help the local restaurants make up a little of what they lost in the ghost town that was post-fire Malibu.