Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Directive: Assume All Residences Are Occupied

Los Angeles County Fire Department

The Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Department (LACoFD) recently issued a directive to assistant fire chiefs and other officers regarding fire response to homes during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Per the directive, on April 16, 2020, LACoFD resources responded to two residential structure fire incidents involving several injuries and civilian fatalities. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive our nation’s focus, it is evident that the societal mitigation of the epidemic may lead to dangerous conditions within local households.

Because of stay-at-home ordering within the County of Los Angeles, we must assume that every house, apartment, or other residence is always occupied. Therefore, remember to size-up each and every structure fire while maintaining an elevated suspicion of high life occupancy, regardless of time of day.

School closures have the potential to force families to leave children at home with little or no supervision which may lead to a variety of household emergencies including residential fires. Children with no supervision often will not know how to contact emergency services or to mitigate a given emergency. When faced with a fire, children may choose to hide in small spaces or under beds in lieu of attempting to escape.


On structure fires, continue to perform safe, rapid and effective search and rescue techniques and communicate findings to the incident commander as soon as possible. Always perform a victim survivability assessment prior to initiating search and rescue operations. Survivability of victims can be improved by the exterior application of water, thereby extending the time required for rescue. Review applicable department training and drill as often as possible while continuing to maintain social distancing.

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