Anaheim Fire & Rescue Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair welcomes residents for day of fire awareness

By Jessica Peralta

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Station 10 recently hosted a Wildlife Preparedness Community Fair for local residents to meet firefighters, tour fire trucks, and learn about the services and tools available in case of wildfire.

Families walking up to the station on Saturday, Nov. 18 were greeted by a fenced-off grassy area housing a team of plant-chomping goats, one of the agency’s wildfire prevention strategies.

Brush-clearing goats are on display at the Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

“We’re trying to elevate the perspective of some other things the residents can do [to help protect against wildfires],” Chief Randy Bruegman said, adding that the event serves as a way for residents to see fire equipment up close while also meeting firefighters, many of whom were involved in the two recent canyon fires. “Of course, the goats are always a hit with the kids. … You put a couple hundred of these goats out on the hillside … they can do some really good work very quickly.”

Community members could take a self-guided tour from booth to booth to learn about fire prevention and emergency services, including Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Wildfire Preparedness Demonstration House, which had a numbering system detailing specifics on how best to protect a home from fire.

“It just helps highlight some of the features in the house and the things they can do in their house,” Fire Inspector Adrian Abel said.

Smokey the Bear poses for a photo with a brush-clearing goat during the Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair on Nov. 18. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Members of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) were on hand to answer questions about the work they do, as well as supporting recruitment efforts for their programs.

“We’re trying to train residents to be prepared with their go bag, but it goes way beyond that,” CERT member Frank Lansner said, adding that training includes lessons on hazardous materials, search and rescue, and terrorist attacks.

CERT is also involved in wildfire watch, running patrols in wildfire areas during red flag alerts in order to spot fires, and as a deterrent to potential criminal behavior leading to fires.

Jacob Barlow, 2, gets a closer look at a Type 3 engine. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Similarly, RACES volunteers are ham radio-certified and provide assistance for emergency communications.

“We’re usually out here wandering the hills just as extra eyes for the fire department [during red flag warnings],” said Richard Lewis, a CERT and RACES volunteer.

His radio uses solar power and, with a couple of extra batteries, he can go 24 hours if he has to.

“It works when other stuff doesn’t,” Lewis said.

An attendee of Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair signs up for free smoke detector replacements at one of the booths. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Other booths included sign-ups for residents to receive a free smoke and fire alarm inspection and installation, if necessary; materials on proper disposal of motor oil (“take it back where you got it”); details on the agency’s Paramedic Membership Program; and information about the Explorer program.

Vendors also were present, providing information on fire-safe metal roofs and flame- and ember-resistant vents, which were invented by a working fireman.

When planning the Wildfire Preparedness Community event, the department wanted to build on the overwhelming support and engagement it received from the public during the canyon fires. Seeing residents walk away better informed and with small action items they can complete now to be better prepared is satisfying for the men and women of Anaheim Fire & Rescue because they know these small things will make a big difference if disaster strikes again.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue employees Robert Gaeta and Vanessa Singh work one of the booths offering free smoke detector replacements to Anaheim residents. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Brush-clearing goats were on display at the Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Modern Emergency ID Card, which allows emergency responders to scan a card that provides all of a subject’s medical information, was one of the vendors at the fair. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Two of the vendors at the fair were DECRA Roofing, which manufactures steel roofing that provides better protection from fires, and Modern Emergency ID Card, which allows emergency responders to scan a card that provides all of a subject’s medical information. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC

Deputy Chief Allan Hogue stands outside the Wildfire Preparedness demonstration house at the Anaheim Fire & Rescue wildfire preparedness event. Courtesy of Anaheim Fire & Rescue.

Anaheim City Council Member Stephen Faessel and Fire Chief Randy Bruegman take a closer look at some of the brush- clearing goats on display during the Wildfire Preparedness Community Fair. Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge OC