Called to Fire Duty

by John Hawkins,
President and CEO, The Club

Welcome to my blog on the Web Alive! I plan to come to you more often now – not just once a month, as we do in print. You’ve been warned!

Before we get too far past our January cover story on the West Valley Tree Surgeons (“Clearing the Logjam,”) I wanted to share a story about Club Member Scott Harmon, Tree Surgeon Supervisor II in charge of the West Valley emergency team. This actually has nothing to do with tree trimming.

Turns out Scott helped the LAFD put out a house fire! Under his heading – “my girlfriend made me” tell it – I’ll let him narrate the story:

“On Nov. 11 [last year] I was doing inspections when I noticed a hillside fire burning behind a house in West Hills. I pulled over, and several people from the neighborhood rushed my truck thinking I was there for the fire. I used my City cell phone to call 911 and they answered right away. Then a lady ran up to me saying, ‘You have to help my husband’ and jumped in her car and drove away. I thought that was sort of weird, but I ran to the back of the house because I didn’t want to enter the house even though the front door was wide open and I saw the guy standing in the backyard pretty much just squirting water up in the air. That wasn’t doing much to extinguish the fire. I’m not sure if he heard me. He wasn’t listening to me when I asked him to leave the area.

“I noticed he didn’t have any shoes on, so I said, ‘Hey sir, you don’t have any shoes, why don’t you give me the hose and go get some shoes,’ so he did. I then started squirting the fire and it was going out so I just stayed there until the palm tree that I was standing next to caught on fire from the flying embers. I was trying to put that out when the Fire Dept. showed up on the wrong side of the wall and I pretty much knocked down the fire behind his house but not the palm tree that was on fire. They handed me the hose over the wall and I thought they were going to climb over and use the hose but instead they told me to use the hose and it was pretty cool. I was only going half-speed with the water because I knew it was strong, but they said, ‘Go ahead, flood it.’ When I put it on full flow, it almost knocked me over, but I put the tree out. Then palm tree on the other side of the yard caught fire, and we got that out. Everything was fine until the wind blew and the fire went down the hill. The Firefighters went down the hill with the fire and took the hose with them. Then the palm tree in this guy’s yard flared back up and I was able to put it out with the garden hose.

“It was pretty cool for me.”

And pretty cool for us, too, Scott! Awesome!

— John