With regard to the fire dept. response to the fire, the local fire trucks have no mechanism ie. pumps to replenish their trucks with water other than to fill the trucks from fire hydrants. Multiple trucks left the fire when their water tanks were empty, driving by multiple swimming pools that they could have used to fill the trucks if they had had proper pumps to fill the trucks. Apparently the County fire trucks have this capability. This should certainly be corrected before the next fire.
You are correct that the Ventura City Fire Department does not readily have the ability to “draft” or suction water from remote water sources including swimming pools. Certainly during the devastating Thomas Fire this would have seemed like a tragic shortcoming by the fire department. Unfortunately we are only able to carry so much equipment on our fire engines and for over 30 years the decision has been that the option of drafting from remote water sources did not outweigh the benefit of carrying other equipment aboard the truck.
There are many factors that weighed in on the decision including the availability of appropriate water sources, the ability to actually even access those sources and the risk vs. gain factor regarding human safety and structure defense. That being said and in light of the increasing frequency of significant wildfires in our area such as the Thomas fire, our department is actively evaluating the situation and looking into purchasing portable pump systems that can be placed at remote water sources such as a reservoir or swimming pool if available, and help supply water to fire engines during emergency firefighting operations.
As always all homeowners are encourages to maintain required brush clearance and fire resistive landscaping and building materials at their home to help combat the threat of wildfire. Additionally here are some recommended websites to help homeowners get more information to help.
Matt Brock – Assistant Fire Chief, Ventura City Fire Department
1425 Dowell Dr.805-797-8828
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