Visit Fire Station 69 on Saturday: It’s Fire Service Recognition Day

Station 69 Firefighters helped judge the chili contest at the Canyon School Fiesta. Now you have a chance to come support them on May 13.
Photo: Rich Schmitt

One of the most fun days of the year for Pacific Palisades families will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, May 13.

In Los Angeles, the second Saturday of each May is designated as Fire Service Recognition Day.

Annually, on LAFD Fire Service Day, select fire stations are opened for families, and Station 69, located at Carey Street and Sunset Boulevard, is one of those selected.

Station 69 Captain Thomas Kitahata, who was named firefighter of the year in 2020, said, “we hope you will come and spend some of your day with us, interact with us firefighters and enjoy family fun.”

There will be special demonstrations throughout the day, at the station, such as showing how the “jaws of life” are used on vehicles. Or, just sit in the fire truck and have the same view that firefighters have when they respond to emergencies in town. Or look in the back of the paramedic’s vehicle at all the life-saving equipment.

Tour the fire station and see where the firefighters eat. There will be free hotdogs, and other treats for the kids. There will be Station 69 gear for sale, such as t-shirts or caps for sale (might make a good present for Mother or Father’s Day).

This year’s theme is “The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People,” and will highlight the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers.

Carl Ginsberg

Carl Ginsberg has been named the honorary fire chief for Operations West Bureau after his years of involvement with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and will be honored that day.

He became involved with CERT after the Northridge Earthquake. He had just moved to LA from the East Coast with his wife and after the earthquake said, “I was quite shaken.” He took the CERT training in 1994.

“Later on, through attrition and passing of older CERT members we found that we needed a new leader. Well, of course everyone pointed at me,” Ginsberg said.

In 2006, he ran into a neighbor who was a CERT Coordinator, who invited him to a meeting. “I found it to be interesting,” Ginsberg said, “and by the end of the meeting, I was a Battalion 4 coordinator.”

He responded to the 2007 Catalina fire in 2007 and afterwards was asked to be the Division 2 Coordinator. “Of course, I could not turn down the offer,” Ginsberg said, noting that Divisions have become Bureaus, and he has been the West Bureau Coordinator since then.

After a conversation with Captain Alicia Welch, Ginsberg helped develop the idea of a firefighter hydration unit.

“The Rehab Air Tenders were then in use for hydration and rehab [for firefighters] but saw limited use due to the need for a firefighter to deliver and then return the rig to its station,” he said. “Capt. Welch and I wondered if we could get a pickup truck that CERT volunteers could drive to use to deliver hydration and rehab [to those fighting the fires].”

After going through several channels, a pickup was delivered to Fire Station 59, Olympic Boulevard near the 405. “The rig was faded pink, the wipers didn’t work, no heat or air conditioning but we used it for dozens and dozens of runs,” Ginsberg said.

Now, eight years later, “we have five Hydration/Rehab rigs mostly repurposed rescue ambulances, scattered around the city. We also do power lines down, fire patrol and much more using these rigs but the biggest demand is for Hydration/Rehab,” he said. “We just received an almost new rig at Fire Station 59, and it is in great shape. Looking at the possibility of a bad fire season coming up for 2023 we know that CERT is ready and fully equipped to perform admirably to take care of our firefighters out in the field.

“It’s been an interesting ride, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding,” Ginsberg said. “We, too, serve the City of Los Angeles with pride and dedication.”

The American Legion Auxiliary enjoyed time in the firehouse kitchen.

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