November 02, 2020
We were joined on Monday November 2nd by our own Chief of the Anaheim Fire and Rescue, Pat Russell. Chief Russell has been with the Anaheim Fire Department for 31 years and he states, “It’s a great job and he couldn’t see himself doing anything else.”
Chief Pat informed us of the exciting things occurring at the Anaheim Fire Department. During the recession, 24 fire fighters were laid off due to extreme budget cuts. The Federal government has awarded the fire department a grant, originally requiring a 30% match from the city. The government has waived the match and the AFD can now rehire 12 full-time firefighters. Historically, there were 64 staff of the AFD in 1975, answering 9500 calls per year. Since then, there has been a steady increase in calls: 2003 answering 26,000 calls with 70 staff; with cuts reducing the staff in 2020 to 65 to answer upwards of 40,000 calls per year.
Also, following Huntington Beach’s model, the ambulance programs in Anaheim will now be operated in-house. The department is being offered a lease with an option to buy situation from CARE regarding the equipment and staffing. This includes 42 fulltime drivers and numerous part-time staff.
In the past, as a cost cutting measure, the city froze all funding to acquire new firefighting vehicles. Fortunately, AFD got their orders in early and the AFD has now been able to take delivery of a new hook-and-ladder truck and a new fire engine. Another older engine was involved in an accident and has been replaced by a new engine. You might see a lime-green fire engine around the city. This belongs to the state and is to be used to fight fires throughout California, but also can be used locally by the AFD. So that makes four new vehicles in the AFD’s arsenal. The interesting fate of the old firefighting equipment is much of it gets sold to other fire departments around the country, while others are donated to Mexico. Chief Russell Pat has seen his own fire engine down in the far off reaches of our southern neighbor, Mexico.
Wildfires seem to be getting larger and more destructive. The recent Silverado and Blue ridge fires have burned over a million acres and have been keeping the AFD very busy. In assisting with other fires, their staff and equipment has been deployed up and down the state. The recent strong Santa Ana winds have exacerbated the situation but only one home was destroyed and two damaged, the fire fighters are definitely doing their job. As of this writing, the Yorba Linda fire is 88% contained and the Silverado fire is 93%. There isn’t much of a relief in sight though as there is still a long time before the Santa Ana wind season ends and the rainy season begins. We can count of several more months until fire season concludes for another year. Two firefighters have been hospitalized with second and third degree burns. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, test sites and food distribution centers are still going strong. But with flu season coming up, things may start up again. Two AFD captains have contracted CV-19. While one of them is back to work, another remains out. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Fortunately, hospitals have not been swamped.
Thank you, Chief Pat for your presentation and it is truly an honor to have you join us at Anaheim Rotary!