Fire Chief Mario Rueda


The City Council delayed judgment of an appeal to a future date, in part to push the applicants to actually get input from a number of neighbors regarding a reality television series the applicants hope to film at a home.
In its meeting last week, the council also punted on an appeal for a mixed-use building proposed to be built along Mission Street, instead opting to schedule a de novo hearing at a later date. The city is expected to argue that the project should be denied because it could not pass a plan check in the event it was approved, at least as currently designed.
The four applicants for the denied filming permit — Rosemary Lay, Julie Chan Lin, Alice Shyu and Weni Wilson — are in the meantime tasked with revisiting a number of homes within a 500-foot radius of their own houses they deemed to be unoccupied in their initial surveys. Additionally, the city staff report indicated that they overlooked some required homes entirely in their initial surveying.

San Marino City Hall was fumigated during the Thanksgiving holiday period, while upgrades to local Police Department offices that were begun at the same time will continue for about a month, municipal officials said.
The tarps that are a familiar part of the fight against termites — and, in San Marino’s case, other pests as well — were assembled on Wednesday of last week and came down Saturday morning.

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
The San Marino Fire Department recently installed new tempered-glass bay doors to replace portals that were more than 30 years old and becoming potential safety hazards.

A local resident driving past the San Marino Fire Department might get the impression that firefighters have left the station’s bay doors open, but that is not the case. In reality, the six old floor-to-ceiling portals — three each in the front and rear of the station — were recently replaced with tempered-glass entryways.
The doors’ wood predecessors had been in service for 30 years, it was estimated, and had increasingly become unreliable, with maintenance costs approaching several thousand dollars per year. The tragic prospect of a piece of equipment being unable to leave the station due to a malfunction became more worrisome.

When the city of San Marino activated the Emergency Operations Center on March 16 and declared a state of emergency a day later due to the local onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a plan that was ready and constantly being evaluated was swiftly put into action.
San Marino’s Resident Support Hotline, available during business hours, was immediately activated within the EOC, a building located in the courtyard behind City Hall that is well-stocked with telephones and other communication equipment. Residents can request assistance, ask questions and get answers via the hotline.
“This disaster is so much different than any that we have previously faced,” said San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda, who came up with the idea. “We realized we needed to communicate with our residents.”
Rueda sits on a crisis communications committee that meets every Monday to evaluate communications and is part of the city’s overall pandemic response plan.

San Marino now has five residents who have confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, four more than one week ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in strict guidelines against public or private congregation, known as “Safer at Home,” and has shut down all schools and businesses except those considered “essential” in order to contain its spread. The disease, which is caused by a novel coronavirus that emerged in November, currently has no cure or vaccine and is responsible for 198 deaths in Los Angeles County, according to data released on Wednesday. The report also stated that there are 7,530 verified cases in the county.

RAGING INFERNO: A large column of smoke rises from a fire at 1745 Sharon Place that was caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material,” according to San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda. Photo courtesy of Michael Sean Chang

A fire that broke out in a detached garage at 1745 Sharon Place on Saturday, November 9 and was responded to by over 25 personnel from multiple fire departments on was determined by investigators to be caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material,” as Fire Chief Mario Rueda reported to the Public Safety Commission on Monday evening. No injuries were reported.

The blaze produced a “large column of black smoke” and was reported by numerous residents around 4:30 p.m. As part of the Verdugo Communications System/Unified Response—which the San Marino Fire Department participates in—the SMFD was joined by fire departments from San Gabriel, Alhambra, Pasadena and L.A. County to battle the flames, which also threatened large trees in the area. The fire was confined within 15 minutes, before it reached the main house and the neighboring homes.

“It extended into the garage and burned the back end of the garage but they were able to keep it from getting into the main house, so it was a good, successful effort and a big hot fire but they put it out,” Rueda told The Tribune.

Rueda shared with the commission that the Verdugo Communications System/Unified Response, an agreement set between San Marino and 10 other regional cities in 2005, allows for the SMFD to tackle large events and simultaneous incidents that would require more additional assistance than the department’s six firefighter/paramedics.
“The San Marino Fire Department would not be able to put that fire out by itself, or if we did, we might put it out two or three houses later, which would not be something we would choose to do,” said Rueda. “Unified Response actually answers some of the difficulties we have as a single resource fire department.”

The garage of this home at 1745 Sharon Place was ignited by “carelessly discarded smoking material,” according to the SMFD.

A view of a bleeding control kit that is installed behind the front desk of San Marino City Hall. Photo by Skye Hannah

In the event of a situation where one or multiple people require care for sustained wounds, city-owned facilities and local schools are now prepared with bleeding control kits installed by the San Marino Fire Department (SMFD).

According to Fire Chief Mario Rueda, it’s better for the city to have them and never use them than something happening and not having them on hand.

One bleeding control kit contains eight individual kits which can be quickly distributed to people assisting those needing care. Each kit contains a tourniquet, 6” trauma dressing gauze, two gauze rolls, two pairs of large nitrile gloves and a pair of trauma shears. Each kit has easy-to-understand pictures and directions for the usage of each.

SMFD Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Tsai said the kits can be used in a variety of situations, from a shooting to any event where bleeding must be slowed to preserve life until first responders are on scene.

“Say there was an incident where there was an active shooter,” said Tsai. “This allows eight separate kits to be thrown to bystanders to help with someone who’s bleeding out instead of having one person have to run around.”

Each bleeding control kit contains eight individual kits within that include a tourniquet, 6” trauma dressing gauze, two gauze rolls, two pairs of large nitrile gloves and a pair of trauma shears. The kits are installed at local schools and city-owned facilities. Skye Hannah Photo

Tsai said the prevalence of publicly accessible bleeding control kits in the region came about after the 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport where four people were shot, one fatally. The airport soon thereafter started installing the kits, which are often placed next to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for use in assisting those in sudden cardiac arrest.

Currently in San Marino, there is an individual bleeding control kit installed next to an AED at City Hall, the Crowell Public Library and Stoneman School. There are also kits at Valentine Elementary, Carver Elementary, Huntington Middle School and at the school district office, according to SMFD Administrative Assistant Jennifer McGee. Four kits are expected to be installed at San Marino High School. The fire department will soon be installing an additional kit at each elementary school in the health aid office.

San Marino residents Stefanie and Mike Killackey donated the kits to the school district.

“Let me reiterate what I said back in March,” said Killackey, who presented a check to School Board president Lisa Link at March 12 board meeting. “I hope they are never used. However, our community needs to provide a safe and secure environment for every child, teacher and staff member in our district and Stefanie and I knew this was a great step in that direction.”

The Killackeys have two children in San Marino schools. Mike is a trustee on the San Marino Schools Foundation and was a candidate at the 2018 San Marino School Board election. Stefanie Killackey will serve as the 2019-20 president of the Valentine Elementary School PTA.

The SMFD has also conducted trainings with the entire city staff at City Hall, the library and at Stoneman. The training consisted of a Power Point presentation, explanation of kits and hands-on practice work.

“This just gives the public now an option of putting some type of bleeding control on someone who gets injured,” said Tsai.