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LAFD, Los Angeles Heat, and Wildfire; 10 Questions & Answers

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Los Angeles
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Here are 10 questions that are frequently asked, many today, regarding the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) and the upcoming heat, in reference to wildfire danger... 

Los Angeles skyline on a hot day1. Q: When do you expect this upcoming heat wave to start?
A: LAFD is expecting possible triple-digit temperatures as soon as Thursday (June 18th) and lasting through at least Saturday.

2. Q: Is LAFD adding extra Firefighters this weekend?
A: We do not anticipate pre-deploying additional resources this weekend for wildfire potential because we do not anticipate high winds.

3. Q: When do you add additional firefighters due to wildfire danger, and where would they be stationed?
A: We augment and re-position resources and personnel when our weather calculations and intelligence indicate the probability of a fire growing beyond the capability of First Responders. They are placed at select neighborhood Fire Stations serving high hazard brush areas. The specific stations and locations are based on fire experience, area access, and fire potential.

Los Angeles map of brush areas in red4. Q: Is heat the main concern?
A: High temperatures are just one variable in the calculation of fire danger. Vegetation moisture is another variable, and that has been well-documented with the ongoing 4-year drought.

5. Q: How big of a deal is wind?
A: In the Los Angeles Basin and in the San Fernando Valley, high winds are the #1 variable for predicting extreme fire danger. Dry offshore winds are not forecast for this period of hot weather.

6. Q: How often does the LAFD check the wildfire weather?
A: The Department calculates its fire danger rating on a daily basis. The Department also monitors current conditions to ensure its deployment stance continues to be appropriate.

7. Q: How do you determine wildfire danger?
A: The LAFD utilizes a Burning Index (BI) to determine the Department’s commitment to augment and pre-deploy resources. First, dead vegetation fuel moisture readings are taken in the early afternoon at Fire Station 108. Second, a group of federal meteorologists provide a "fire weather forecast" consisting of a predicted high temperature, low relative humidity, wind speed and direction for the next day. Third, historical data. All of this information is fed into equations that derive the BI. When the BI is Extreme (>=162) we may pre-deploy additional resources.

8. Q: When and where is their Red Flag no-parking restrictions?
A: When fire weather conditions dictate, the City of Los Angeles may enact special parking restrictions in areas historically prone to wildfire. These are critical areas (very narrow roads, hairpin turns, and key intersections) where parked vehicles could delay residents trying to evacuate and delay fire companies attempting to gain access during a fast moving Brush Fire. These areas are clearly posted with signs. 

Red Flag no parking sign9. Q: Are the Red Flag no-parking restrictions issued when National Weather Service (NWS) issues Red Flag conditions for Los Angeles?
A: This local declaration of parking restrictions is separate from regional forecasts from our friends at the NWS. Check out lafd.org/redflag for more info.

10. Q: What should people in brush areas do to prepare their family for a Wildfire?
A: Three words; Ready, Set, Go

Get Ready: Help protect your property by creating defensible space around your home. That means removing brush and replacing shake-shingle roofs. Assemble emergency supplies and plan your escape routes.

Get Set: If a wildfire threatens your neighborhood, act immediately. Place valuables in your vehicle, roll up the windows and back your vehicle into the driveway. Remove flammable materials from around your house. 

Go: You don't have to wait to be told to leave, but if told to do so, do it. Remember firefighters need room in which to work. By leaving, you give them the best chance to protect your property.

(LAFD & MySafeLA Brush Fire Video)

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