In carrying out our mission of protecting life and property, our Department faces many challenges unique to Southern California – wildlands, oceans, mountains, deserts and theme parks! As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles County presents LACoFD with the task of providing emergency response services to film and entertainment venues that are rich in cultural history but also densely populated. To assist our Department in responding to incidents in such a distinct setting, Universal Studios held its annual Public Agency Orientation from June 19-21 to familiarize its public safety agency partners with their properties. LACoFD was among the agencies in attendance at this year's orientation, which was held at the Spartacus Square portion of the Universal Studios backlot. "We hold this event every year in order to be able to give you an update on what changes occur here at Universal with the facilities and the business," said Universal Studios Emergency Services Director Bob Cavaglieri. "It also gives us a chance to give you an overview of the disaster preparedness organization we've built up over many years and give you an idea of the resources that might be available to you in an emergency."
At any given time the 400-acre Universal Studios property can have a population of up to 60,000 people – employees and guests combined. During the orientation, an overview of the Studios operations and disaster response plans was presented to help our first responders understand and navigate the extended complex, which includes 30 soundstages, the Gibson Amphitheater, CityWalk and theme park. Map books of both Universal Studios as well as the NBC television studios in Burbank were handed out to attendees, with special attention being noted to changes in street names and access routes. After the overview, participants boarded a special tram to tour the facility, where our Department's Fire Station 51, firefighting water sources and other safety features were pointed out along the route. The day was wrapped up with a breakout session hosted by Battalion Chief Tom Sullivan, who is the Department's official liaison with the Studios, where personnel were able to network and discuss potential challenges and opportunities for mitigating an incident. "We greatly appreciate all the outside agencies who are here today," said Sullivan. "We thank you for your support as assisting agencies during incidents. This is a great way to familiarize ourselves with this location."
Gratitude and appreciation for our Department's services was highlighted by the Studios, which took important lessons from the three-alarm 2008 Universal fire to which our Department, along with Los Angeles City, Arcadia and Burbank Fire Departments responded. "We have a deep and abiding appreciation for what you do," said Cavaglieri. "We are trying to make your job as easy as possible." Thanks to Universal Studios for assisting our Department in ensuring the safety of its employees and guests at its world-renowned entertainment venue.