By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
Palisadian Bruce Schwartz was named Honorary Fire Chief on Saturday, May 11 at Fire Station 69 during a yearly open-house event.
Schwartz, a well regarded community member known for his efforts on the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, takes over the honorary position from fellow PPTFH member Sharon Kilbride.
“It makes me feel very good because I believe in community stewardship, [which can be described as] caring about your community, being involved in community affairs and appreciating how fortunate we are [to live in the Palisades],” said Schwartz in an interview with the Palisadian-Post.
His name was floated for the honor after his close work with fire officials to clear out homeless encampments throughout the Palisades and placing “Restricted Entry, Very High Fire Severity Zone” signs.
Currently, any homeless person can sleep on the sidewalk in the city of Los Angeles between 9am and 6 pm., but after several fires were started by hillside campers, including the 420 acre Skirball fire, Schwartz and his colleagues set out to prevent further blazes.
“My concern was in severe fire zones, like where we live,” he said. “You can’t have people with campfires in brush filled areas.”
Schwartz found that John Novela, LAFD fire inspector, had been working on just that very thing to prevent future fires caused by homeless encampments, and teamed up to get the signs installed shortly after.
His fire prevention efforts, along with street clean up and neighborhood beautification projects, led him to win a Pacific Palisades Citizen of the Year award in 2017 and a Golden Sparkplug award in 2018.
Now, as honorary fire chief, Schwartz is looking to build upon his contributions and help the vulnerable Palisades from burning in future fires.
Schwartz said he believes local homeowner association groups should look into independent irrigation systems that work to protect homes in the event of a wildfire, along with the removal or further maintenance of eucalyptus and pine trees that “go up like roman candles.”
“I think that people forget about fires until there is one,” Schwartz said. “We need to research a means, or a method of prevention and everyone should have fire checkups and inspections.”