Malibu West fire volunteers host training day with pools
Malibu, California, residents marked the fourth anniversary of the Woolsey Fire with a fire fighting training day hosted by the Malibu West Volunteer Fire Brigade.
26 members of the volunteer fire department turned out to show residents how to become more prepared and coordinated in defense of their neighborhood in the event of a fire.
As residents received training, Aron Marderosian, a member of the fire department, had a slightly different task from the other volunteers.
Nicknamed “The Professor” because he is handy with mechanical tasks, Maderosian spent the day doing radio tests and took inventory of equipment and firefighting resources that could prove indispensable in the event of a fire.
“ I also mapped out all the swimming pools in our neighborhood, which are huge resources,” he said. “Mrs. Glass had a 40-year-old pool pump that hadn’t been used or started in 40 years, and I spent the time to get the motor started, along with Ron Lander, and it worked like it was brand new.”
Thirty-six homes in Malibu West have swimming pools, but only five or six have pool pumps that can be used in a fire.
“We’ve been encouraging people with pools to get pool pumps,” Marderosian continued. “They’re 25,000-gallon water sources. [The brigade] also bought a few mobile pool pumps. If someone wants to buy a pool pump, I show them what to get and how to set it up.”
These pumps are kept at resident’s houses, ready to deploy if needed.
The brigade was founded by Dermot Stoker 10 years ago, but
Malibu West Fire Brigade founder Dermot Stoker speaks to volunteers prior to the training session on Saturday, Nov. 12. Photo by Julie Ellerton/TMT. Marderosian didn’t join until after the 2019 Woolsey Fire.
“I saw firsthand what went down and the lack of resources and assistance that was available,” he said. “In a disaster like that, the only way people are going to get any help is for some of them to stay behind.”
Among the big lessons learned among those who witnessed the fire was how useless cellphones became as communication went down. To that end, walkie-talkies are now used to activate the brigade, and Marderosian says the new radios are a game-changer.
“They’re a huge improvement over the last time,” he said. “And we now have our own repeater on top of the Malibu West Beach Club, which has a generator.”
During the Woolsey Fire, the brigade was fighting the fire with shovels and garden hoses. Now, they are a lot better prepared.
They’ve since installed 10 Fire Brigade Boxes located throughout the neighborhood roughly every 500 feet, which are stocked with proper firefighting equipment.
More boxes are being added and are standardized with the same keys, the same thread sizes, and the same hose fittings, so everything is interchangeable.
During the brigade’s training event, which they actually do several times a year, participants were instructed to report to their nearest Brigade Box and correctly deploy the equipment within by attaching to fire hydrants Y-shaped hydrant attachments with 500-foot-long hoses with nozzles.
“It’s hands-on, repetitive stuff,” Stoker said. “But safety is a very important component of the training. For example, you have to know to open the fire hydrant slowly, because the hose can become deadly from the full force of the water pressure, if not controlled properly.”
Once Marderosian got Betty Glass’s pool pump up and running again, he attached a hose and let her try it out, prepared to help her with the force as she sprayed water back into her swimming pool.
“I’m a proud Malibu resident and proud of our neighborhood,” Marderosian said. “It’s nice to be part of something where everyone wants to contribute and do their part and work together.”