The wind-driven wildfire that recently struck Maui, killing more than a hundred people, not only highlighted the impact of wildfire, but how we all must unite in victim support, recovery, preparedness - and disaster prevention.
As Los Angeles Fire Department member Tai Trinh and his canine search partner Molly were on their way to Maui as members of FEMA Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 1, active and retired members of LAFD and their families remained busy on the home front, joining friends and neighbors in proudly supporting established disaster relief organizations to help the many Hawaiians who miraculously survived the firestorm, and the families of those who perished.
Clearly, there is a need to assess and improve our individual and collective preparedness and response to wildfires.
In support of firefighters, MySafe:LA has developed the Los Angeles Fire Safe Council to empower community members in being best prepared to keep their home and family safe before and during a wildfire event.
Similarly, the City of Los Angeles Community Emergency Response Team program, coordinated by LAFD, provides free hands-on training to assure families, neighbors, businesses and community groups they will be ready to help themselves and others with critical life- and property-saving abilities when, not if any type of disaster occurs.
But back to wildfires, in particular the recent firestorm that destroyed Lahaina, Maui.
The horror in Maui underscores why your evacuation plans must consider your personal circumstances at the time a wildfire occurs.
- READY - Know of the danger in your area.
- SET - Make plans and pack to leave at any moment.
- GO - If immediate danger exists. Leave now!
By carefully planning the P.A.C.E of your Evacuation during the SET phase you greatly increase chances of surviving the unpredictable dynamics of a wildfire:
- Primary Evacuation Plan - Leaving when or ideally before an Evacuation Warning is issued.
- Alternate Evacuation Plan - Leave immediately when the Evacuation Order is issued.
- Contingency Evacuation Plan - Using a pre-planned safe alternate route or method if your evacuation is impeded by flames, traffic, weather or other factors.
- Emergency Evacuation Plan - Going to a pre-planned fire safe shelter or area for temporary refuge in the hope of survival when the above options are not possible.
And finally, to survive a fast-moving firestorm or other disaster, you need to stay informed. Assure your family members are aware of and subscribe to:
- Local Emergency Alerts (City of Los Angeles = Notify L.A.)
- Wireless Emergency Alerts on mobile phones.
- LAFD ALERT and/or @LAFD on Twitter/X.