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Firefighters help each other

October 07, 2005|By: Lauren Vane

Firefighters from Laguna Beach spent nearly a week battling wildfires

some 60 miles away from their coverage area.

Although the fires raging in Los Angeles County weren't a threat

to Laguna, local firefighters were called in to help.

It's all part of a statewide mutual-aid agreement among California

fire agencies. Whether it is fighting a brush fire in the Inland

Empire or sifting through floodwaters for hurricane survivors in the

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South, local firefighters give help wherever they are needed.

When an emergency overwhelms a city's resources, backups are

called in, starting with nearby agencies, officials said.

Depending on the incident, resources can be pulled from agencies

within the region, state and, in some cases, across the country.

In California, mutual aid is used for all types of disaster

situations, said Laguna Beach Battalion Chief Jeff LaTendresse.

In daily emergencies, local agencies assist one another all the

time, LaTendresse said.

"No agency has enough resources to handle the major, major

incidents," said Dave Mais, a battalion chief with the Newport Beach

Fire Department, which frequently responds to incidents in Laguna

Beach.

The city has an automatic aid agreement with the Newport Beach

Fire Department and the Orange County Fire Authority, LaTendresse

said.

A Fire Authority unit responded to an apartment blaze Monday in

the 200 block of Cliff Drive, LaTendresse said. Anytime there's a

structure fire in Laguna, a unit from the Fire Authority is

automatically dispatched to help, LaTendresse said.

The fire was contained to one unit in the building and caused

$50,000 in damage. The cause is still under investigation, but it

appears to have been an accident, LaTendresse said. The tenant was

not home at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Two engines from Laguna were dispatched to a fire in Los Angeles

County, one on Sept. 28, the other on Saturday, LaTendresse said. The

city sent three firefighters on each engine; the engines were part of

two separate regional strike teams dispatched to the fires.

The first engine to go was the city's reserve fire engine, owned

by the state's Office of Emergency Services, LaTendresse said.

That engine belongs to the state but is housed in Laguna. It is

called out to respond to incidents throughout the county, LaTendresse

said.

There are a total of 120 Emergency Services engines throughout the

state, with five in Orange County.

The second engine, which left Laguna early Saturday for the

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