On November 8th, 2018 Malibu and surrounding areas Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibou Lake, Westlake Village, Canoga Park, Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Conejo Valley and more experienced the worst fire in 100 years of Los Angeles County firefighting history, The Woosley Fire. We had 1,000ft flames and 50mph+ winds. The fire seemed to almost hit overnight and it grew at a football field distance per minute. The fire was so powerful most residents had to evacuate their homes for anywhere from 7-21 days. The fire destroyed 1,643 structures, killed threee people and evacuated 295,000 people while buring 96,949 acres of land. Our state parks won’t look as they did before the fire covered in green brush and trees for an estimated 10-20 years. This fire was a game changer and it really brought light to how unprepared we were, especially in the City of Malibu.
As a 20+ year long Malibu resident and founder of Malibu based digital agency Vivid Candi, I saw a serious flaw in how evacuation orders were sent to residents…. the problem, many of us DIDN’T RECEIVE AN EVACUATION ORDER AND HAD NO IDEA A FIRE WAS IN OUR BACKYARD (IN SOME CASES LITERALLY). I remember Friday, November 9th 2018 vividly in a way that reminds me of the scene in the Will Smith movie Independence Day at the start of the movie where he goes to check his mail with a cup of coffee and notices everyone around him appears to be abandoning their homes in a hurry– he looks right at the city of Los Angeles and see’s the biggest alien ship you can imagine and drops his coffee in complete shock. Now in my case there weren’t Aliens, but I woke up around 7am to the smell of smoke and I had no internet, no phone, no electric and no idea what was going on. I walked out on my deck and looked right and nearly dropped my coffee as I saw the biggest plume of smoke in the mountains behind me coming right my direction. I could literally see flames on the top of the hills. I had literally no idea the fire was that close to me which prompts the question, what would be a better evacuation alert system?
In 2019 we have all the technology we could ever dream of but with many natural disasters those technologies such as text notifications and automated calls aren’t reliable and they aren’t solid solutions. A solution came to mind though! I remembered a time I was in Hawaii on the Island of Maui and had a Tsunami scare. I remember sitting in a spa and suddenly hearing Tsunami disaster sirens go off miles in the distance. I had never heard this siren before personally but you’re dam right I got the message to evacuate loud and clear. It took seconds for me and others to get off to high grounds in record time. We have had this siren system for over 50 years and it has worked in nearly every case study. I know coming from a digital agency CEO this does not sound like a high tech solution but that’s actually exactly why it’s so effective as a solution for any disaster. After thinking about this, I wondered why don’t we have a siren system in the City of Malibu? Is it too expensive? Is our geography wrong? Is there something better?
Asking those questions put me on a mission. Using the power of social media and a closed group on Facebook our agency created earlier in the year called “Malibu Locals”, I posted about this topic to poll our city. Our Malibu Locals group has easily 1/5th the population of Malibu in it and is the #1 Facebook Group for Malibu so it was the perfect platform to test this concept. After all Malibu residents typically disagree on just about anything to do with changing Malibu so I thought I’d get the typical push back on this idea. It was truly amazing to see hundreds of comments come in WITHOUT ONE AGAINST SIRENS. In fact we had an out roar of people saying why don’t we have this? There was such a demand for this solution that I took the next step as a director of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and brought it up to Paul Grisanti who chairs our Government Affairs committee. He immediately said he’d be happy to help and push this idea forward. Amazingly he came through solid on his word and the next thing I know I got an email from our City Manager Reva Feldman saying the following:
I have never been happier to get an email. Why? Because this WILL SAVE LIVES and IT WILL WORK. It’s solid, proven and reliable. If anything we could modernize it and improve it and lead as a city just as we did with the Plastic Straw ban. If you’re a Malibu resident affected by the Woosley Fire, please join the city council meeting on January 28th, 2019 and support the Malibu Siren System for 2019. We can do this. We can save lives. Let’s be #malibustrong and make this happen.
SIREN SYSTEM RESOURCES:
Here are some helpful resources I found in my research on pricing and development of a siren system:
-This has the pricing details and scenarios
-Sirens cost 10-20k each
-This also has many product details, but no public pricing but probably 10-20k per siren from what I read online.
-This company makes sirens specifically for fires
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