Palisadian Seniors Prepare for Fire Season

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

The Palisades Alliance for Seniors boarded the wildfire safety train as the latest group in the Palisades to host a wildfire safety meeting on Monday, April 22.

With a presentation by John Ignatczyk, Los Angeles Fire Department disaster preparedness officer, close to 50 Palisadians learned the latest in safety tips to prepare for a variety of  emergency scenarios.

The audience was briefed on how to assess the proper tools needed in case of a kitchen fire, earthquake or out-of-control wildfire. Tips on how to properly use a fire extinguisher and what to look for when purchasing one gave listeners a better understanding of the tools at their disposal.

When calling 911, Ignatczyk urged the audience to be caught up on their family’s or their own medical information.

“We will always ask you ‘HAM,’ what are your history, allergies and medications,” he said.

But after the LAFD official gave the low down on standard earthquake safety and how to get homes prepared as best as possible, Ignatczyk touched a nerve when talking about evacuation plans in Pacific Palisades.

Members of the audience asked what would be done differently during future fires to prevent the gridlocks in evacuation as recently seen during the Woolsey fire in Malibu and the Camp fire in Paradise, California.

“The whole state had a symposium to get all evacuations done the same way,” Ignatczyk said.

One audience member suggested a siren-based alarm to alert as many people as possible as quickly as possible, but Ignatczyk disagreed, saying it “wouldn’t work for hard-of-hearing residents,” and assured everyone that the fire department does door-to-door alerts when an evacuation is given.

The disaster preparedness officer quickly reminded everyone that while fire officials are working on fine tuning the evacuation process, there is plenty to be done even before a 50-foot wall of flames is screaming down a hillside toward a neighborhood, such as creating defensible space and clearing as much brush as possible around homes.

Flammable debris around the property can also be cleared, such as patio furniture or trash pile ups that are the first to go when embers rain down on a property, Ignatczyk said.

Councilmember Mike Bonin will be the next official to host a community wildfire meeting together with the Los Angeles Fire Department at Paul Revere Charter Middle School on Tuesday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m.