May 27, 2018

Town Council Hosts Station 69 Dinner



Town Council Hosts Station 69 Dinner

From left, paramedic Jesse Diaz, engineer Ed Marroquin, Captain Jeff Audet and fireman Matt Sagraves enjoy the chili dinner donated by the Topanga Town Council.

L.A. County Fire Station 69's new A-Shift firefighters received a warm welcome to Topanga from the Topanga Canyon Town Council (TCTC) with a homemade chili dinner at the station and a surprise Valentine visit from school kids and their moms. Laura Bateman, accompanied by her daughters Sally and Grace, made the chili, a multiple-time winner of the Community Club's Chili Cook-off, that complimented other dishes of veggies, salad, coleslaw, cornbread and brownies brought by Town Council board members Michele Johnson, Karla Morrison, Tanya Starcevich and Friends of the Council head Becca Barkin.

A-shift firefighters Captain Jeff Audet, Engineer Ed Marroquin, Paramedic Jesse Diaz and Fireman Matt Sagraves, along with Bryan Witkow, a long-time member of Topanga's Call-Firefighter Unit 269, joined in for the feast.

TCTC president Stacy Sledge coordinated the event, when she learned that most of Topanga's firefighters covering the Fire Station's three work shifts, are new to Topanga—thus the intent of the gathering was two-fold: to let the firemen know how much Topanga loves and appreciates them, as well as to help the firemen get to know more about Topangans and the multiple volunteer organizations that support Topanga.

Answering the many questions of the evening, the firefighters told the dinner attendees that they learn a lot about the Topanga neighborhoods and terrain while doing the annual door-to-door brush clearance assessments and fire hydrant checks, which are just beginning now.

In addition, we learned that three of the four firemen are family men with two to three children each, and that they travel to Topanga from as far away as San Bernardino and Ventura. That's a lot of traveling mileage to reach Station 69, which will be their home-away-from-home for the next year or so.

They each commented on Topanga's beauty, at the same time wondering what brought people to live in this wildland urban interface. When talking about past fires, TCTC Board member Michele Johnson, reminded us all that we can view pictures and stories of these fires at the Topanga Historical Society in Pine Tree Circle, in the second edition of “The Topanga Story and through the Topanga Messenger at the old center.

In the midst of the dinner, two Topanga Elementary students, Grace Campbell and Maya Frank, appeared with their moms to give Station 69 a handmade Valentine’s Book and a box of chocolates from Ms. Fulton's second-grade class. When the gift-bearers left, the firemen were surprised to hear their appearance was spontaneous and hadn't been planned by the Town Council. It was the perfect meal compliment to a fine chili dinner. They remarked that no other community has ever extended itself to their stations like this—and that they totally enjoyed the welcomes and the friendliness from Topanga.

TCTC Vice President, Rebecca Goldfarb, who is also the Neighborhood Network Team Leader, suggests that other community organizations connect with Station 69 captains to see about planning future visits at the station or in various neighborhoods.