Monday, June 30, 2008

Post-Incident Debrief of Last Week's Fire

This past Saturday, over 50 Brisbane residents, along with the CEVs, Mayor and councilmembers, City Manager, Brisbane PD, firefighters representing Station 81, North County Fire Authority, and CAL Fire, as well as City Hall staff, gathered at 9:00 am at the Sierra Point Yacht Club (located at the Brisbane Marina) for what would unfold to be a very lively discussion of last Sunday's fire and evacuation.

Over the course of 1 and 1/2 hours, an overview of the fire and the strategy used to successfully attack it was presented by Fire Chief Ron Myers, followed by a question-answer time with community members bringing forth ideas regarding everything from the importance of maintaining a defensible space around one's personal property, to the felt desire for more information in the wake of an emergency. The City is working to strengthen its Emergency Response Plan to account for all the various suggestions which have been brought to the table, and welcome any more you may have. A reminder to sign up to receive instant updates from San Mateo County ALERT if you haven't already done is right now the fastest way for you to receive up-to-the-second emergency information...and not just that which pertains to Brisbane, but any jurisdiction(s) of your choosing.

Thanks to all who made it out to personally express their comments, concerns, and compliments for a job well done...and for Christie's and Jamba Juice for helping to keep 'em coming!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Look Back to Sunday

In less than a week, the town has gone from being threatened by a 300-acre wildfire ravaging the canyons of San Bruno Mtn. to resembling again the small, quaint community which so many of us love in Brisbane. This would not have been the case without the quick thinking of firefighters from CAL Fire, North County Fire, and of course, our own Station 81 guys. Let's recount the events from Sunday evening, and see just how fortunate we are because of their efforts!

(The pictures below were taken by Brisbane resident Steve Berry who dropped off over 300 of his pictures at City Hall. Here are the ones that particularly stand out):

The backfire which CAL Fire implemented was successful in that it resulted in the fire burning into itself. Cutting the fire's oxygen and fuel supply were both a part of that strategy. If you look closely at the picture below, you'll see a little red dot under the fire - that is the flare which was used to start the backfire.

The big flames seen below are due to the fire burning in tall trees.
The fire started burning in Owl Canyon and then made its way left to Buckeye Canyon.
It is quite scary to consider how close the fire got to the houses at the upper part of Central Brisbane. Residents from the evacuated streets of Kings, Margaret, Trinity, and Paul did a tremendous job that night, along with the Police Dept., CEVs, and Public Works crew who all helped make the evacuation process a success, as well as Parks & Rec., who opened up Mission Blue Center so the evacuees would have a safe and warm place to stay for those hours outside of their homes. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking we can now rest on our laurels, because there is always room for improvement. If you have ideas or suggestions, or comments about what worked well and what didn't, we need you to be there at tomorrow's post-incident debrief (9:00 am at the Marina) to share them with the Fire and Police departments, and City Hall staff. Something as important as this just can't wait.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Getting the Last of It

A CDF chopper has been making back-and-forth water drops for the last hour. Shots below capture the decrease in smoke with each drop that's made. Notice the 2 CAL Fire trucks standing by on the ridgeline:

Re-fueling with water from the Bay:

The burned hillside section of Buckeye Canyon:

Just a few more trips and we should be completely smoke-free!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Efforts to Stop the Smoke

At approximately 10:00 AM, a CDF helicopter will be dropping water on the remaining hot spots of the fire smoldering in Buckeye Canyon. But first, the fog will have to lift high enough for CAL Fire to have sufficient visibility of the scene. Also, if the chopper is needed in another location, it may be diverted to meet it. When it does make its water drops here, expect to see it returning multiple times so that the area can be completely doused and rid of smoke.

Signing up to Receive SMC Alerts

The link for SMC Alerts in the previous post is for first responders and law enforcement personnel. Community members may sign up at We apologize for the annoyances felt if you had tried to sign up previously but couldn't!

There is, however, good news as a resultant from this mishap. By 3:00 PM today, there will be a special grouping created especially for Community Emergency Volunteers. So, if you are a CEV, you will be able to sign up to receive alerts pertaining specifically for you.
Thank you for your dedicated service to the Brisbane community!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Winds Causing Smoke to Increase

Afternoon winds have caused an increase in smoke coming out of Buckyeye Canyon, heading over the top of the Mountain as well as over the City. Station 81 has walked the perimeter of the scene and has reported that the fire is still under containment.

For your health and safety, please remain indoors and limit any outdoor activity.

Take this time to sign up with SMC ALERTS to receive real-time notifications through e-mail or any wireless device during a major crisis or emergency.

San Bruno Mtn. Fire Update

With there still being some smoke coming out of Buckeye Canyon, it is advised for residents to remain indoors as much as possible, taking into consideration the health effects of smoke. A few spots are still smoldering on the Mountain, but a CalFire engine (E1765) is still on-site, and will remain until those spots have become completely extinguished.

Preparations made by property owners before a fire can greatly aid in fire suppression efforts. In fact, there have been incidents reported in other areas where a re-burn occured. This was due to winds coming up a couple days after the fire had been extinguished, carrying embers to areas containing dried out vegetation. And with the very dry spring we just had, the need to clear brush and overgrown vegetation from individual properties becomes even more imperative. Please do your part by removing weeds, leaves, and other highly- flammable brush from the perimeter of your home. The Brisbane Fire Dept. and North County Fire recommend you do so for up to 100 ft. around your property. If you have any questions regarding weed abatement issues, please call Elizabeth Solis at the Fire Dept. at 468-7190.

Monday, June 23, 2008

In a Moment's Notice

The City didn't have to wait a week before it could practice its response to a major wildland fire in upper Brisbane. A little before 7:30 PM last night, a real-life incident took place in the steep pitch of Owl Canyon, located on the northern side of San Bruno Mtn. The Brisbane Fire Dept., E81, was the first engine to arrive on scene and established the Incident Command Post (ICP) near Quarry Rd. In the event of a natural disaster such as last night's fire, the ICP acts as the central hub for on-scene incident command and management organization. When a Battalion chief arrived to the ICP, E81 was then able to be redeployed to Kings Rd.

30 fire companies from all over the Peninsula would eventually arrive to fight the blaze, including North County Fire and CAL Fire. Ultimately, a near 200-person firefighting crew was on-hand, which also included a rehab unit, a bulldozer, 2 helicopters, and 10 chief officers. 100 police officers were also called in to help with the precautionary evacuation order of Trinity, Paul, Kings, and Margaret in the upper community of Central Brisbane. A total of 102 residences were evacuated, with the Community Park serving as a first place of refuge for those evacuees. Brisbane Public Works was on-site to assist in directing traffic, helping keep emergency access routes to the site clear and accessible to responding units. Those evacuated were directed to head towards Mission Blue Center, where food and drinks were provided. Community Emergency Volunteers (CEVs) made themselves readily available in directing traffic, as well as activiating MBC as a temporary shelter.

CAL Fire then dropped off crews at the top of the Mountain, who implemented what is called a backfire. This is a fire set along the inner edge of a fireline to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire. In essence, a backfire is started to draw the fire back to its head, cutting off its fuel. The backfire was completed successfully, though not without offering those looking on quite the glowing spectacle. The fire was contained in approximately 5 hours, with extinguishment and overhaul continuing today. With winds now blowing smoke over Central Brisbane, the Brisbane Fire Dept. advises for residents to stay indoors and for windows to remain tightly closed. If you have respiratory problems, it may be worth considering to move to another location while the air clears over the next couple of days.

The emergency evacuation drill will still be taking place this coming Saturday, though smaller in scale than what the City actually saw take place this past weekend. It will allow the community a time of de-briefing of yesterday's fire, as there is no better time than now to discuss insights of what worked well during yesterday's incident and what didn't. For example, how to best keep the streets clear for responding units, while likewise ensuring that residents are able to safely exit the incident scene. After yesterday's event, this may be most swiftly done on foot to allow responding vehicles enough room to pass. So please plan on participating in this Saturday's exercise, because as we experienced from last night, the next wildland fire could come at any time. It's up to us to determine whether or not we're doing all we can to be fully prepared for when that moment comes.

Pictures sent from residents and found on news sites are compiled below:

A shot taken from the Northeast Ridge.

Quenching the flames with water from the Bay.

North County Fire and CAL Fire crews.

Backfire being implemented down Trinity.

Courtesy of KGO...and yes, that's a hummingbird in the foreground.

Press conference held this afternoon at Mission Blue Center.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Host of Updates...

As numerous as the stars in Brisbane! But first and foremost, a word on the City’s website. We have secured a web security specialist to advise us on what measures need to be taken to keep out the intruders who have been unrelenting in laying siege on the City’s website. However, our web security specialist has uncovered that most of the attacks are originating from Asia, specifically China and Singapore, and that we are not the only ones suffering from their laborious efforts. Apparently, an epidemic of similar occurrences has been going on for the previous six months. So, as we make our way into the control seat once again, we thank you for your patience. It is our goal to always be striving to inform you of all the latest happenings taking place in your town.

Speaking of latest happenings, there are some exciting ones to report on happening in Parks & Rec! For one, the Lipman Tennis Courts have been re-opened and are ready for play. Enjoy this beautiful weather and take a swing at it!

If you prefer to keep cool while you unwind, you’ll have more time to do so at the Community Pool – summer hours take effect on Monday, 6/23. They are:

Adult Lap Swim:
Mon-Fri: 6:30 - 1:00pm, 4:30 - 7:00pm
Mon-Thurs: 7:00 - 8:00pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30am - 12:00pm

Recreation Swim:
Mon-Fri: 1:00 - 4:30pm, 5:30 - 7:00pm
Sat-Sun: 12:00 - 5:00pm

For further information regarding the Pool, click here.

Returning for its second year, an Advanced Pitching Clinic featuring USC Head Pitching Coach Tom House will be taking place Aug. 15 – 17 at our very own Mission Blue Field. The RDRBI Pitching Clinic is an in-depth three-day clinic focusing on the four legs of the performance table: biomechanical, physical, and mental/emotional preparation for pitching with more efficiency, less risk of injury and greater success. Click here to register!

Tom House at Mission Blue Field, 2007

If pitching drills don’t suit your style, this next one definitely should as it affects the safety of our entire community. Next Saturday, 6/28, a simulation of a major wildland fire will be taking place from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. This “Wildland Pre-Fire Attack Plan” was borne out of the dedicated efforts of staff from the North County Fire Authority, Brisbane Police Department, Department of Public Works O&M, City EOC Logistics Section, Community Emergency Volunteers, and Office of Emergency Services to ensure residents respond as quickly and safely as possible in the event of a major wildland fire taking place in the upper community of central Brisbane. The scheduled geographic impact area is Humboldt Rd, but because these disasters can never be “scheduled”, it would be in your best interest to take a proactive stance and make the private preparations required to plan for natural disasters.

This coming Monday, 6/23, the City Council will be meeting to review upcoming capital improvement projects taking place in town. Come and see how these will be funded and the benefits they hold for you and the community at large. And speaking of funding for capital projects, a measure will be on the November ballot regarding an increase in Business License fees for those businesses in town generating more than $10,000,000 in gross receipts.

And that just about wraps up this week’s updates. Stay tuned for more, especially as City News is slated to be going on “vacation” for the months of July and August. It will be returning in the Fall as yet another way of informing the Brisbane community of what’s going on in the City of Stars.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update on City's Website

The City Website has been down periodically in recent days due to a robotic hacking event. City staff has been working with our contractor E21 to prevent this but we have had only partial success. Due to this we are working on securing the services of a Web Security expert. To date, hacker(s) have been able to close down access to the site but there has been no violation of data or harm to any City information.

In the meantime we have Council agenda packets available at City Hall and the library and we will also make packets available at Madhouse Coffee. Additionally, the City Clerk who e-mails the agenda to all who have signed up for this service can e-mail or make available staff reports. The public is encouraged to contact her to get reports, agendas, minutes, etc. at

City staff will continue to work earnestly to provide website access to city information. However, this is a lesson that we live in an electronic age where there are any number of individuals that create “mischief” by attacking websites. It is and will continue to be a challenge for website security experts to stay ahead of the “hackers”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Take Notice...and Extra Precaution

A second JOBS FOR YOUTH WORKSHOP has been added and will be taking place next Tuesday, June 17th from 4:00 - 5:00 at the Community Center. This event is being sponsored by the Brisbane Teen Center and is geared towards teens ages 14-18 who are looking for summer jobs. An overview of current summer positions, their applications, as well as interview tips will be presented. This is a FREE event, but space is limited! Be sure to contact Steve Beaty at either 508-2144 or to secure your spot!

Construction of a soil nail retaining wall is slated to begin in mid-June at the 900 block of Humboldt Rd. (between Glen Pkwy & Kings Rd.), and will continue through August 2008. In doing so, the City is continuing in its stabilization efforts and to prevent the hillside from sliding again in the event of heavy winter storms. Due to construction and lane closures, motorists are advised to expect delays at the 800 block of Humboldt. Please take alternate routes around the work areas if possible and be cautious of traffic control, construction equipment, and workers when traveling in or near the construction area.

But it doesn't hurt to exercise extra precaution before then! Starting next Wednesday (6/18) through the following Tuesday (6/24), we will be conducting annual pavement maintenance through asphalt slurry sealing. This is a low-cost surface treatment that preserves the existing asphalt on our streets. Residents whose streets have been selected to be slurry sealed will be individually notified on Monday (6/16). See below to see if you will be in any way impacted:
  • Work is scheduled to be performed between 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Alternating cul-de-sacs in the Northeast Ridge will be closed off during that time (road width prevents doing the work in phases)
  • Mission Blue Dr. will be 1-way ONLY Wednesday and Thursday
  • Santa Clara St. will be 1-way ONLY Thursday and Friday (all traffic will be from San Francisco Ave. to San Bruno Ave.)
  • San Bruno Ave. (between Thomas Ave. & Bayshore Blvd.) will be 1-way ONLY Thursday and Friday (all traffic will run southbound)
  • Brisbane Police and Fire departments have been notified, along with USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
If you have any questions about the project, you may contact the Public Works Dept. at 508-2130 or Valley Slurry Seal at (916) 373-1548. We realize the inconvenience this may cause, and greatly appreciate your patience during this process to improve our roads!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yet Another One

Last Friday, Lipman Middle School was the site of a second-alarm fire which burned along the hillside behind the school yard. The fire was deemed an arson, started by a 6th grade student while using a lighter. Fortunately, calm winds that day caused for less than 2 acres to be burned, with the fire being brought under control within 30 minutes. There was no damage done to the school or surrounding homes, though students and faculty were temporarily evacuated to Quarry Road for safety and to clear the area for additional fire engines responding to the call. Thanks to the Fire Department's timely response and quick action taken by our Public Works department to secure the access routes to the site, the fire was extinguished quickly and school was back in session within the hour. The student who started the fire was arrested and released to his parents. As the schoolyear draws to a close, let's hope the same can be said for the number of fire incidents taking place in town.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Planning for a Baylands Community Alternative

The community alternative that will get an in-depth study in the EIR for the Baylands depends part and parcel on the dialogue that takes place during the upcoming summertime open houses and neighborhood workshops. The first of these is taking place TOMORROW, with an Open House session at the Community Center. Drop in anytime during 1:00 - 3:00 pm to ask questions of the consultants and staff, and to review the 3 project alternatives. More information can be found on the Baylands Information page. See the timeline below for upcoming opportunities for community members to share in the process of planning for the Baylands.

Come and join in on this exciting process -- this is your time to make sure your ideas are heard!