Police, Fire Unions Open to Vaccine Policies

First published in the Sept. 25 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Local police and fire labor groups say they will abide by vaccine and testing requirements affecting their respective personnel, including a rule the city recently passed for municipal workers.
The Burbank policy, which the City Council approved on Sept. 14, requires all city staff members to be tested for COVID-19 weekly unless they are fully vaccinated. The testing mandate is tentatively expected to go into effect on or around Oct. 11. New hires must be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical or religious exemption. Continue reading “Police, Fire Unions Open to Vaccine Policies”

Battling NorCal Blazes, Local Firefighters Expand Skills

First published in the Sept. 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

In his 24 years with the Burbank Fire Department, Capt. James Moye has battled all sorts of blazes and relied on proven techniques to put them out. Even when he and a strike team of firefighters were summoned to help combat the Monument and Caldor wildfires last month, he said, the approach was largely the same.
What he wasn’t used to were the trees. In Northern California, where several devastating fires have scorched forests and forced people to evacuate their homes, charred trees presented a unique danger. Moye, who recently returned to Burbank with his team, said he heard them fall to the ground throughout the day and night. Continue reading “Battling NorCal Blazes, Local Firefighters Expand Skills”

Fire Department Names Firefighter of the Year

Capt. Erik Johnson

The Burbank Fire Department recognized Capt. Erik Johnson as its 2020 “firefighter of the year,” praising the longtime professional for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson, who has been with the BFD for 21 years, is a shift paramedic coordinator who has worked to support the department’s emergency medical services program, according to a news release announcing the award. He also volunteered to assist with the BFD’s recruitment efforts for the 2020 and 2021 academies, working as the lead background investigator for recruits.
Johnson said he was honored by the recognition but didn’t think he was any different from his colleagues.
“I don’t really think I deserve it,” he said in an interview. “I’m surrounded by a group of amazing people in this department, and I think it’s hard to … pick one person who demonstrates the qualities that represent the firefighter of the year.”
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Saint Finbar Church’s ‘Fiesta’ Aided by Firefighters’ Support

Former Mayor Michael Hastings and volunteer Alyssa Ziegler flank Erik Johnson, Paul Konzen and Jen Hoffman of the Burbank Fire Department, who came out for a barbecue lunch to benefit Saint Finbar Parish School.

As traditional as the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and the honoring of our moms, the month of May in Burbank has also been the time the Catholic community of Saint Finbar Church has staged their annual fiesta.
In what has become a local harbinger that summer is just around the corner, the Saint Finbar Fiesta is a three-day event which raises funds for the parish’s school by offering an array of games, entertainment, dancing, American barbecue, street tacos, sausage and pepper sandwiches, specialty dishes from the church’s Vietnamese community, and treats of all kinds to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.
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Police Push to Receive Vaccines

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
The president of the Burbank police union is expressing frustration that law enforcement hasn’t been included in the county’s vaccine distributions.

As the state and county continue to roll out vaccines to health care workers and elderly residents, Burbank’s police union president says he’s disappointed that law enforcement has been left waiting.
Burbank Police Department personnel were scheduled to receive vaccines last Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 3-4, according to Lt. J.J. Pugilisi, president of the Burbank Police Officers’ Association. But as the dates approached, he said, Los Angeles County shifted gears, pushing back police departments’ reception of the vaccines to allow more residents ages 65 and older to get them.
Though fire departments in the county were included in an earlier wave of vaccinations — Burbank Fire Department personnel received their second doses last week — because they often respond to COVID-19 related emergencies and other health calls, Pugilisi pointed out that police officers often have to be physically close to residents.

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Obituary | Curtis Virgil Reynolds

Curtis Virgil Reynolds

Curtis Virgil Reynolds, 86, passed away peacefully at home in Port Hueneme, California, on Sept. 14, 2020, with his loving wife Nancy by his side.
Curt was born Dec. 15, 1933, in tiny Bengal, Oklahoma, to Etta and Alexander Reynolds. They moved to California when Curt was seven. He attended schools in Los Molinos, and upon high school graduation joined the Navy. He served on a mine sweeper in the Mediterranean and then an icebreaker in Alaska.
Completing military service, Curt returned to California and in 1958 joined the Burbank Fire Department, working through the ranks to become Fire Chief in 1976. He also earned his B.A. degree in Political Science at California State University at Los Angeles.

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Minimize Exposure to Wildfire Smoke, Doctors Advise

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A smoky haze from the nearby Bobcat Fire dwindles over the Verdugo Mountains. Some experts are warning that air quality could become potentially hazardous.

With smoke from the Bobcat Fire continuing to billow into communities throughout Burbank and the rest of the San Fernando Valley, health experts are warning residents to limit their time spent outdoors.
The Bobcat Fire, which began in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 6, burned more than 60,000 acres, with 15% containment, as of Friday morning. The wildfire, whose cause remains under investigation, previously prompted evacuation orders for parts of Arcadia and Sierra Madre. Evacuation warnings also have been issued for parts of Pasadena, Monrovia and Altadena.

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Burbank’s National Night Out Rescheduled to October

Burbank officials announced Thursday that the city’s annual National Night Out, typically held on the first Tuesday in August, has been moved to October.
Public health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic were cited as the reason for rescheduling the event.
Each year, the Burbank police and fire departments join neighbors and community members for the event. National Night Out promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie and is aimed at making the city a safer, more caring place to live and work.
The event is typically celebrated with social festivities, block parties, cookouts, community gatherings, kids’ activities, interactive safety demonstrations, exhibits by emergency service personnel, and more. However, as the community continues to deal with the pandemic, the police and fire departments decided to postpone National Night Out in the interest of public health and safety. In accordance with recommendations by the official National Night Out organization, this year’s National Night Out event has been rescheduled to Oct. 6, a date that also is subject to change.
Although National Night Out has been postponed, the Burbank Police Department encourages community members to communicate with one another through social media channels and neighborhood watch groups.
By remaining vigilant and observant in Burbank’s neighborhoods, community members can help keep one another safe, officials said.

Burbank’s Firefighter of Year is Honored

Capt. Ryan Cortina

Captain Ryan Cortina, a 12-year veteran with the Burbank Fire Department, has been recognized as its Firefighter of the Year, it has been announced.
“His passion and commitment as a company officer is second to none and may only be superseded by his investment in the Paramedic Program,” a fire department spokesperson said. “He spends countless hours both on and off duty working towards the improvement, innovation and ownership of this program. He always goes above and beyond as a paramedic coordinator by maintaining personnel needs, equipment and supplies. He is a key component in the department’s successful relationships with outside agencies and provides continuing education for the Emergency Medical Services Program.
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