Fire & Rescue team pushes ahead with new fire engines in time-honored fashion

The Fire & Rescue team has announced the arrival of two new fire engines as part of an upgrade to the department’s fleet.

The public will get a chance to see the new engines, which will be on display Tuesday March 7 in front of City Council Chambers during the City Council meeting.

When the engines first arrived, members of the department honored an old tradition of physically pushing the engine into the station.

In addition, the department said a prayer with Police/Fire Chaplain Mike Decker.

“Early hand drawn fire engines, ladder wagons, hose carts, were physically pushed back into the station by hand after calls for service,” Fire Chief Dan Stefano said. “The horse drawn steam engines that followed could be backed up by the engineers, but it was difficult to align the steam connections on the engine with those in the station, so the horses were disconnected and the steamers were also often pushed back into the station by hand.”

While not every department continues in the tradition, Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue team has preserved that fire history.

“Ultimately, we evolved when our engines had motorized horsepower,” Stefano said.  “But the fire service lives and breathes in tradition, and in an effort to honor and pay tribute our past, the new engine barn push in is executed by some.”

City urges residents to brace for yet another winter squall expected to hit Costa Mesa

City staff is urging residents to prep for a fierce winter storm that is expected to bring high winds and drench Costa Mesa and surrounding communities with as a much as two inches of rain.

To help with potential flooding, the city is providing sandbags to residents only and not for commercial use. Also, sandbags are limited to 15 per resident.

The city offers a pre-filled sandbag station at the Southeast corner of the City Hall parking lot at at 77 Fair Drive while supplies last. There are signs on Fair Drive that will direct residents to the location.

Residents can also fill up sandbags at Fire Station No. 4 located at 2300 Placentia Ave. Bags and sand will be available for free, but please bring ID to show to City staff before picking up the bags.

Click here for information on how to prepare sand bags.

Further, the city has added additional maintenance crews for Friday and Saturday to assist with emergencies.

Residents are urged to drive safely, watch for downed trees and power lines and be prepared for potential flooding. Residents who are in need of assistance are encouraged to call the city’s non-emergency line at 714-754-5252.

As always, in the case of emergencies, downed power lines or other life threatening issues, please dial 9-1-1.

In anticipation of the storm, County officials have issued a Flash Flood Watch and High Wind Watch for both Coastal and Inland Orange County.  Please click on the links below for further information on these alerts:

High Wind Watch in effect from February 17, 07:00 AM PST until February 18, 07:00 AM PST

Flash Flood Watch in effect from February 17, 12:00 PM PST until February 18, 04:00 PM PST

Click here to see how to contact Southern California Edison  or call 1-800-611-1911 to report power outages.

The agency “211 OC” is also poised to help coordinate assistance. 211 OC has an around the clock phone line to help with all types of emergencies and provides regional connection to resources for disasters victims, the homeless, and others needing health and human services.

Information about 211 OC can be found at or by simply calling 2-1-1.

Firefighters put lifesaving skills to work on return flight from fire engine inspection

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Division Chief Jason Pyle was settled into his plane seat high over the skies of Colorado and enjoying a movie with his headphones on when he heard what sounded like a call for medical assistance.

Pyle, Fire Engineer Steve Cathey and fleet maintenance supervisor Gant Corum were just returning from Appleton Wisconsin where they were doing the final inspections on two new fire engines.

He pulled off his headphones and again heard the flight attendant put out a call for medical emergency and asked that anyone with medical training come back to assist.

Pyle peered to the back of airplane and knew his services were needed.

“There’s a guy all balled up on the floor, and he was in respiratory distress,” he said as he quickly walked back toward the plane to assist the senior-aged man. “He was blue, and he didn’t look like he was breathing.”

Pyle and the flight attendants slid him over to a portion of the plane where they could work on him. He was later joined by a nurse, a cardiologist and Cathey who helped with the medical charting and got the man’s medical history from his daughter.

As they performed patient care and began treatment on him the man was initially unconscious but as they provided the first aid his condition stabilized.

Meanwhile, the team of responders were able to contact the plane’s captain and advised him the flight needed to be diverted to Denver.

“That was like a roller coaster ride,” Pyle said as the plane quickly descended to the Mile High City.

Once the landed, he and Cathey met Denver Fire at the door to provide them with the information about the man, who they learned was 90 years old. By that time, he was talking and conscious and his color came back.

“The most important thing was getting him into a stable condition and providing him appropriate medical care,” Pyle said. “We got him in that window where he was in a savable moment.”

Pyle gives lots of credit to the flight crew for saving the man’s life.

“They are the ones who raised the concern and they are the ones who found him,” he said. “Their fast action to look for help and alert others and their ability to recognize an emergency was key.”

The other thing that assisted was the man’s daughter was able to provide his medical history to Pyle and others helping him.

That helped provide a jump start on his medical care and Pyle recommends that residents carry a medical bracelet or necklace that identifies medical conditions in case they are ever in need.

And if saving a life wasn’t enough, two family friends who were traveling with the man, stayed on the plane but didn’t have a ride home. So Steve Cathey gave them a ride home to Los Alamitos. And those friends have since kept him up date on the man’s condition.

“They sent me a couple letters saying that he is doing good,” Cathey said.

For Pyle and Cathey, it was good knowing their training came in handy that day.

“It’s part of what we do,” Cathey said.

Pyle agreed.

“It’s good to know when you have ability to help, that you are able to help,” Pyle said. “It doesn’t matter if you are in the streets of Costa Mesa or flying over Colorado.”

Members of the Community get CERT Training

The Fire & Rescue staff has happily reported that 16 community members recently graduated from the CERT training hosted by Greenleaf Mobile Home Park.

Participants learned skills in preparedness, fire safety and utility control, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue techniques, homeland security awareness and disaster emotional first aid.

Members of the instructional team included Fire Capt. Fred McDowell and Costa Mesa Police Lt. Vic Bakkila as well as volunteer instructors, Georgette Quinn, Cindy Brenneman, Dee Chester and program manager Brenda Emrick.

The next CERT class will be offered in March.


City Manager Hatch provides update to Mesa Verde Community Inc.

On Tuesday Jan. 18, City Manager Tom Hatch gave a presentation to the Mesa Verde Community Inc. to update the group on several city initiatives.

Hatch brought them up to speed on the Fire Station No. 1 replacement efforts and noted that the groundbreaking for the new station will take place on March 11, 2017 with completion scheduled for the following spring of 2018.

He also told the group what was going on with the Lions Park improvements which includes a new library and community center. Hatch also gave updates on the new City Council, the Mesa Verde medians, city staffing, the homeless and the news that the Chargers are moving the team headquarters here.

City offers resources to deal with fallen trees, downed power lines, flooding and more

A powerful winter storm that whipped through Costa Mesa on Friday knocked down at least two large trees and one tree took out some power lines.  

Crews from Southern California Edison responded and assisted with the power lines.

There were more than 30 calls for service related to issues with smaller trees and two metal plates in the road near Sunflower and Main fell into the hole they were covering as part of some road construction work, forcing the city to close two lanes of traffic.

Who to call?

With another storm coming possibly on Sunday and Monday, residents in need of assistance are encouraged to call the city’s non-emergency line at 714-754-5252.

As always, in the case of emergencies, downed power lines or other life threatening issues, please dial 9-1-1.

Click here to see how to contact Southern California Edison or call 1-800-611-1911 to report power outages.

Sandbags available

Residents are also encouraged to obtain sandbags to deal with potential or real flooding problems.

The city offers a self serve process at the Southeast corner of the parking lot at City Hall located at 77 Fair Drive where residents can get up to 15 sandbags.

There are signs on Fair Drive that will direct you to the location.

Please visit City Hall as our primary location for sandbags, or if we are out of sand, you can obtain sandbags at Fire Station No. 4 located at 2300 Placentia Ave.

Click here for information on how to prepare sand bags.

211 OC

Furthermore, the agency “211 OC” is also poised to help coordinate assistance. 211 OC has an around the clock phone line to help with all types of emergencies and provides regional connection to resources for disasters victims, the homeless, and others needing health and human services.

Information about 211 OC can be found at or by simply calling 2-1-1.

Mayor Foley and Council Member Stephens deliver new coats to Boys and Girls Club

Mayor Katrina Foley, Council Member John Stephens and members of the police and fire departments paid a visit to the Westside Boys and Girls Club on Wednesday to deliver 100 donated new coats to the children there.

This is Mayor Foley’s eighth year of holding a coat drive for the city’s low-income community. In addition to the new coats, about about 50 gently used coats and sweatshirts were donated as well as $1,884 raised for the Fire Association charity drive and approximately 40 toys for the OCBA Spark of Love Toy Drive.

Foley and Stephens took questions from the kids in the after school program as did members of police and fire. Emergency coordinator Brenda Emrick urged the children to take a safety pledge and take proper precautions during the holiday season.

Costa Mesa Fire Chief Earns State’s Top Distinction

Fire Chief Dan Stefano received a distinguished career honor this week, as he became the 32nd Certified Fire Chief in California.

Stefano was presented the award at the Dec. 6 City Council Meeting by Chief Mike Richwine, California’s Acting State Fire Marshal, which also included receiving a set of Certified Fire Chief collar brass.

Candidates are thoroughly vetted through the Office of the State Fire Marshal and must successfully pass a rigorous set of comprehensive performance and professional standards evaluations by a Peer Assessment Committee.  The final phase includes an extensive, half-day interactive assessment and interview by a panel of professionals including an elected official, a Certified Fire Chief, and the State Fire Marshal.

Among the qualifications required to merit the award, candidates must demonstrate  significant leadership and Chief Officer experience, technical and operational expertise, higher education and advanced training, community involvement, professional organization affiliations and recommendations from other fire chiefs and non-fire service professionals.

To learn more about this award click here.

“I am truly honored and humbled to become the 32nd Certified Fire Chief in California,” Chief Stefano said. “This recognition is just a small example of much greater things that the men and women of the Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue Department are accomplishing and demonstrating everyday in professionally serving the community through our core values of respect, integrity, and compassion.”

The Fire Chief certification was established by the State Board of Fire Services in the 1990’s as the capstone for the State’s professional certification and qualification system. Today, there are over 900 fire departments in the state with fire chiefs eligible to complete the process.

Chinese city leaders visit Costa Mesa to learn more about CERT

City and Fire Department leaders were pleased this week to host a contingent of Chinese government leaders from the city of Chengdu, who visited Costa Mesa as part of a multi-week, fact-finding mission on the best practices of Community Emergency Response Teams or CERT.

Brenda Emrick, the city’s CERT manager who has visited Chengdu several times last year for training purposes, said the group was in the United States on a study tour sponsored by The Asia Foundation. 

Welcoming the group to Costa Mesa along with Emrick was Mayor Steve Mensinger, CEO Tom Hatch, Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and CERT leaders from the State of California and the cities of Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Downey and Irvine as well as members of The Asia Foundation.

Chen Liuting, who represented The Asia Foundation, said the visitors from Chengdu were all emergency managers who had prior training from the Federal Emergency Management Association. She said the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of China has a population of 13 million people.

“It is a big city with lots of responsibilities,” she said. “That’s why there are here to learn more about CERT.”

The past two weeks the group has been studying at the University of Maryland, before winding up in Costa Mesa on Tuesday and Wednesday. During their visit to Costa Mesa, the group got a tour of the city’s Emergency Operations Center as well as a visit to Orange Coast College to learn about campus-based CERT.

The trip also included workplace seminar as well as a visit to South Coast Plaza for lunch at Lawry’s and dinner at Maggiano’s.





Fire Station No. 1 Reconstruction project going out for bids

The Fire Station Reconstruction Project has been advertised for construction bids. The bid opening is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 24. The Public Services Department has been working closely with the Fire Department and WLC Architects for more than a year to develop construction documents for this reconstruction.

The scope of work includes demolition of the existing station, and construction of a new, 12,000-square-foot station equipped with a three-bay and double-deep apparatus room, dorm rooms, administrative offices, kitchen, dining room, day room, physical training room, EMS training room, mechanic shop area, and emergency medical supply room. Additional site features include an emergency generator, fuel station, hose drying tower, and a City emergency supply storage unit.

Construction will commence shortly after the holidays in the first quarter of 2017.

Costa Mesa public safety staff honored at annual chamber barbecue lunch

Costa Mesa’s public safety employees were treated to a free lunchtime barbecue at the OC Fair & Event Center care of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce that included live music and performances from the Orange Coast College cheerleaders.

About 200 people attended this year’s Public Safety Recognition Barbecue on Thursday Oct. 8, including 90 police, fire and dispatch personnel.

Guests were served up dishes of chicken, tri-tip steak, mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad.

The community and civic leaders in attendance which included City Council Members Katrina Foley and Sandy Genis, OC Fair & Event Center CEO Kathy Kramer, Orange Coast College President Dennis Harkins, Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and Fire Chief Dan Stefano.

“It was an honor to attend today’s Public Safety Recognition Barbecue,” Chief Sharpnack said. “On behalf of the CMPD staff, I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for their generosity and others in attendance for their support of public safety personnel. We are proud to serve the Chamber of Commerce membership and look forward to collaborating in the future to make Costa Mesa an even greater city in which to live, work, and visit.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Eileen Benjamin said the chamber is proud to honor the city’s protectors.

“The men and women of our Fire, Police and Communications departments keep our community safe and are willing to put their lives at risk for us every workday,” said Benjamin, who emceed the event along with Chamber President Tom Johnson.  “This event is a small way to demonstrate our appreciation.  It is wonderful to see many supporters joining together to show gratitude to these fine guardians.  The people of Costa Mesa are inspiring in so many ways.”

In addition to the OC Fair & Event Center donating the venue, the Orange County Marketplace donated the catering and other supporters were Care Ambulance, Harbor Center and ICI Development, Metro Pro Towing and The Triangle. Longtime Chamber Board of Director member Patty Mason was also instrumental in supporting this event, and the music was provided by the Mike Donahue band.


The Community Emergency Response Team Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service to Local Area

 This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Community Emergency Response Team program and to celebrate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency partnered with California Volunteers, NBC Universal, and other CERT partners across nation to host a National CERT conference in Universal City earlier this month.

CERT Program Coordinators from Costa Mesa (Brenda Emrick), Newport Beach (Matt Brisbois), Huntington Beach (Brevyn Mettler) and Laguna Beach (Jordan Villwock) were an integral part of the National CERT Conference and have all played key roles in the success of CERT.

The recent CERT conference provided an opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions of the extraordinary community volunteers locally and across the globe, as well as an opportunity to recognize the leaders of the CERT programs they serve locally, and at the state and national levels.

“Brenda, Matt, Brevyn, and Jordan have individually and collectively gone well above and beyond to represent our respective agencies and the communities we serve in an exemplary manner,” Costa Mesa Fire Chief Dan Stefano said.  “We are extremely fortunate to have this talented foursome working together to train and develop our CERT volunteers to assist our first responders in making our communities and the entire region more actively prepared for any emergency or disaster.”

CERT program partners from throughout Orange County in fire and law enforcement have supported and taken part in state-sponsored instructor training courses and are assets in the development of citizen preparedness drills and exercises to improve and enhance the resiliency of the people in Orange County.

There are more than 28 Orange County city-sponsored CERT programs including Teen, Campus and Workplace programs registered on the National CERT website. Orange County CERT programs have been recognized nationally by FEMA for their training, best practices activities, and program organization.  For additional information on a CERT program near you, please contact your local fire department or law enforcement agency.