April 26, 2010
Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray
City of Sierra Madre
232 West Sierra Madre Boulevard
Sierra Madre, California 91024
Dear Mayor MacGillivray:
I read with great interest the April 15, 2010 issue of the Sierra Madre Weekly and noted the comments relating to the June 28, 1991 Sierra Madre Earthquake.
The events of the Sierra Madre Earthquake were indeed tragic. Severe damage impacted numerous homes and businesses throughout the City. The efforts of the Sierra Madre Police Department and the Sierra Madre Fire Department were extremely professional and performed in a timely manner to help ensure the safety of the community’s citizens and the preservation of property. In accordance with the pre-designated Sierra Madre Fire Department’s Emergency Operations Plan, which included the activation of the Sierra Madre Fire Department’s Emergency Operations Center in Fire Station # 41, the members of the fire department were unselfish in their dedication to serve the community. While several members of the fire department experienced damage to their homes, they responded to the fire station and within minutes of the earthquake were on the fire department’s apparatus and responding to emergency calls in their pre-designated areas throughout the City, reporting the status of the incident to the Fire Chief and other Chief Officers assigned to the Sierra Madre Fire Department’s Emergency Operations Center. The information received from the units in the field, along with the information gathered from the news media were provided to the Sierra Madre Police Department and the City Administrator throughout the day and night of June 28, 1991 and the following day. As the Sierra Madre Fire Chief, I was extremely proud of the coordinated emergency response of both the Fire Department and the Police Department and the related communications with the City Administrator during this entire event.
I recall that at the time of the Sierra Madre Earthquake, the representatives of the City of Sierra Madre City Council were attending the ICA Conference in Rancho Bernardo, California. Upon being advised by the City Administrator of the earthquake, the members of the City Council (consisting of Roy Buchan, Clem Bartolai, Gary Adams, MaryAnn MacGillivary and George Mauer) immediately left the ICA Conference and returned to Sierra Madre. After checking their property for damage, of which you were hit the hardest, the members of the City Council met at the City Hall with the Fire Chief, Police Chief and Police Watch Commander, and the City Administrator to determine the extent of the earthquake’s damage, the impact to the City and the course of action to be taken for the subsequent 24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour periods as it was anticipated that there could be serious “after shocks” which could cause additional damage throughout the City and the potential for serious injuries to its residents.
The City Council declared a state of emergency due referencing the entire City as an emergency/disaster area on June 28, 1991 (i.e., the same day as the Sierra Madre Earthquake!). In addition, Los Angeles County also declared a state of emergency on the same day as the Sierra Madre City Council due to the extensive damage throughout the County.
After the emergency declaration by the Sierra Madre City Council, numerous meetings were held with the surrounding cities and status updates relating to the City of Sierra Madre were provided by the Fire Chief and the Police Chief.
In reading the Article in the Sierra Madre Weekly, I was surprised of the comments made almost nineteen (19) years later by Michael Bamberger regarding the “fire department’s hands were tied with limited resources on hand.” The fire department had adequate personnel throughout the incident and responded well to the event, as noted above. At the time of the incident, and due to his position in the fire department, Michael Bamberger, was not involved in the command operations of the strategy and tactics associated with the incident and the updates provided to the City Council and the City Administrator. Therefore, his statements referenced in the Sierra Madre Weekly article are unfortunately not factual. Additionally, the statement that he and many others “lost respect for MacGillivray” is unfounded and did not exist in the fire department during my administration as you were always supportive of the fire department and appreciative of the services provided by its members.
In addition, the Sierra Madre Fire Department used to be viewed as an apolitical entity and its By-Laws prohibited a firefighter from getting involved with the politics of the City. As evidenced by the Sierra Madre Weekly, and its reference to Michael Bamberger being a “long-time Sierra Madre firefighter”, perhaps this By-Law no longer exists in the Sierra Madre Fire Department, or maybe it is just not enforced by the leadership of the Sierra Madre Fire Department and the Sierra Madre Firefighters’ Association.
In closing, I wish you continued success on the City Council and I congratulate the new members of the Sierra Madre City Council and wish them luck as you all go about the business of maintaining the wonderful quality of life in the City of Sierra Madre which I enjoyed for twenty-nine (29) years.
Edward D. Tracy
Sierra Madre Fire Chief (Ret.)