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SCV firefighters reorganize

Due to the growing number of local stations, Battalion 6 splits in two

Posted: September 29, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Firemen Martin Maher, center, Chris Cullen, right, and Steve Betteridge, left, clean a fire truck at Station 123 Tuesday afternoon. The station - along with other local ones - are no longer part of Batallion 6 but now are part of Batallion 22.

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As the Santa Clarita Valley edges toward the most volatile time of year for major fires, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has reorganized its growing army of local firefighters into two separate battalions instead of one.

The change came as several new local fire stations were nearing completion, threatening to overwhelm Battalion 6, which had previously encompassed all fire stations in the SCV. Now the valley is also served by Battalion 22, which is managed by a new battalion chief.

"It now allows us to give more attention to a smaller group of fire stations," Battalion 6 Chief Buck Buchanan said.

Fire officials evenly divided the 14 Battalion 6 fire stations that respond to Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Santa Clarita, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia, Chatsworth and Gorman between the two battalions, and added an additional station from another area, he said.

Most stations that sit west of Railroad Avenue and Bouquet Canyon Roads are part of Battalion 6. Most of the stations to the east are part of Battalion 22.

"Battalion 6 was expanding, and it was expanding rapidly," Stowers said of the division that has added several fire stations over the past couple of years and was the largest battalion of the county. "The (administrative) control was getting close to being out of alignment."

Buchanan said residents will notice a positive change if a major local fire or disaster occurs. The station would be able to call on another local battalion chief to help oversee emergency operations instead of relying on a chief from as far as La Canada, he said.

The change was enacted in August, though it was initially planned to take place about a year ago. Budget setbacks delayed the split.

This year, fire officials managed to separate the division without putting the costs on taxpayers, Buchanan said.

Fire officials balanced the addition of the new battalion chief position by eliminating administrative positions at the department's Los Angeles headquarters.

Now, with two battalions in the area, future expansion is possible as the Santa Clarita Valley continues growing, Buchanan said.

"There are 12 stations that the department has planned to add to the Santa Clarita Valley over the next few years," he said.

"(That) will probably lead to another realignment and another battalion chief out there."

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