Ask Robby Q&A

Ask Robby Q&A

Robby to the Rescue banner

Ever wonder about VCFD’s fire, emergency, medical or rescue services? Have a burning question about fire safety and daily operations? In the below videos, Firefighter Robby answers our community’s top questions in a fun, new video series. “Robby to the Rescue!” is designed to engage and educate the community on a variety of fire safety topics with the help of its VCFD fire family members.

News Release: Robby to Rescue

Oprima aquí para la versión en español.

Do you have a question for VCFD? Hit the ‘Ask Robby’ button to submit your question for a future “Robby to the Rescue” episode! 

Follow VCFD on social media and join the conversation by using the hashtag #AskRobby to learn about Robby’s adventures.



On A Hook And Ladder Truck What Is The Difference Between The Driver In The Front Of The Truck, The Engineer, And The Driver In The Back Of The Truck, And What Roles Do They All Play Both In The Firehouse And On Active Scene Calls?

-Jess, Woodland Hills


Hello Jesse,

That is a great question.  Hook and Ladder is the old term used to describe the Tillered Laddered truck. In the old days of firefighting some ladders had hooks on them so firefighters could hook a window sill and scale the side of buildings one story at a time.  Now we have aerial ladders that are hydraulically operated, our ladders reach 105 feet in the air while some agencies have ladders that go much higher.  We find that the safest and most efficient way to drive the aerial ladders around town is using a two person tillered truck.  The engineer, the person who is responsible for the apparatus drives the front of the truck.  The tiller person operates the steering wheel in the rear, can you believe that person steers in the opposite direction as the engineer. At the VCFD the tiller person is the rank of firefighter and they do go through special training to be able to ride in that position. While on calls their roles change based on call type and situation, the truck has more specialized tools than the engine therefore they all go through additional training to operate all those tools on numerous emergencies.  The rank structure within fire stations for VCFD starts at firefighter, engineer, captain then battalion chief.


What is the distance one must park from a fire hydrant in the city of Port Hueneme?

-Chrystal, Port Hueneme


Hi Chrystal and thanks for your question.

Per the vehicle code:

No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle within 15 feet of a fire hydrant except as follows:

(a) If the vehicle is attended by a licensed driver who is seated in the front seat and who can immediately move such vehicle in case of necessity.

(b) If the local authority adopts an ordinance or resolution reducing that distance. If the distance is less than 10 feet total length when measured along the curb or edge of the street, the distance shall be indicated by signs or markings.

(c) If the vehicle is owned or operated by a fire department and is clearly marked as a fire department vehicle.

Simply put, in general, you should not park within 15 feet on either side of a fire hydrant (that’s a total of 30 feet with the hydrant in the middle). Be sure to contact the Port Hueneme Policy Department, Parking Enforcement Division for city specific requirements or for any further questions at (805) 986-6552.


Do you stock sandbags before a rain storm?

-Carole, Simi Valley


Thanks, Carole, for your question.


Free supplies are available to homeowners in the recent burn areas at local VCFD fire station. Click here for VCFD fire station locations that have sand and sandbags.

  • Please call ahead to your local VCFD fire station at (805) 371-1111 for availability. Residents should be prepared to fill and transport sandbags as fire station personnel may or may not be available to assist due to other emergency activities.
  • Sand and sandbags can also be purchased from local DIY stores

For more Ready for Rain tips, please visit our website at

Stay safe and thanks again for reaching out!


I have a friend who lives at the top of a mountain by the coast, and who wants to plant leftover Christmas trees (Aleppo, Stone, etc.) on his property which was denuded by the fire.
Is this allowed?

-Jennifer, Northridge


Thank you for your question, which is a great one.  We really appreciate the ingenuity and the great thought on repurposing some of those trees. 


I am guessing you mean the trees that are in pots for sale and not already cut down.  It is a tough question to answer because it really depends on where your friend lives.  If he owns the property (City codes may not allow) and is within his right to plant the trees then by all means yes.  However, they would have to maintain those trees so they do not become a fire hazard and follows the local Fire Hazard Reduction Programs rules found here


If your friend lives within National Forest or State Parks lands they will need to ensure the plants they are planting are not an invasive species that are not allowed on or near their lands.  Here is a list of plants that are prohibited: Prohibited-Plant-List-Guideline.pdf as well as a plant reference guide: PlantReferenceGuide.pdf.  My friend Smokey Bear would appreciate the good thought of helping the land heal.

Stay safe and thanks again for reaching out!


Can we store a 2-gallon container of gasoline outside our house, under a tree that keeps it always in shade? Or does it have to be in either the garage or a shed?

-Jodi, Westlake Village


Storing gasoline and other highly flammable liquids at home is dangerous if not done properly. The best way to store gasoline is in a well-ventilated area separate from the house. The location should have no electrical equipment, open flames, or other sources of ignition present. In addition, the location should be protected from the heat of the summer sun to keep evaporation to a minimum.

Do not store gasoline in the basement of your home or in a utility room. The furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, or any of several other items could ignite fumes that may leak from the can and travel considerable distances. If you do not have a suitable storage area, consider building a cabinet outside your house for storage or purchasing a commercially available flammable liquid storage cabinet, available from safety equipment suppliers. In addition, never put gasoline or any other nonfood material in a container that resembles a food container. Keep gasoline and other dangerous materials locked up. These practices will prevent children from getting to the material and being accidentally poisoned.



What do all the abbreviations on Pulse Point dispatching for Ventura County stand for?

-Bill, Simi Valley


Here is a full list of the PulsePoint abbreviations and their definitions. For additional information on PulsePoint visit our website at


I have 3 fire extinguishers (thankfully, never had to use them) that are dated 1985. I assume they are well past expiration. How do I dispose of them?

-June, Ojai


Thank you for that question.

To see if they are still good, take a look at the fire extinguisher needle. If it is in the green area then they’re still good. If not, to properly dispose of your fire extinguishers, go to one of your local hazardous materials collection sites. Please do not throw it away in your trash can!

Be sure to check out my video: Robby to the Rescue! Fire Extinguishers and for more information visit


My neighbors trees covers the entire house and you cannot see house. Is this a fire hazard, and what can we do anonymously?

-Gloria, Thousand Oaks


Thank you for that question.  This is always a tough one for us to answer because there is not much the fire department can do.  If the house is within 500 feet of an open space then we can encourage the property owner to trim the tree; 10 feet away from the chimney, 10 feet off the ground, and rake all associated leaves.  However, if they are outside of that area we do not have jurisdiction to ask the property owner to trim that tree.  You would need to contact the local law enforcement authorities, but even they will not have too much power in making changes. 

For the tree to be a fire hazard depends on many factors, here are just a few:

  • Type of tree
  • Has the tree been properly watered or is it dead and drying out
  • Potential fire threat around the tree

Here is a document that may help in understanding fire hazard vegetation:



When is brush required to be cleared by, within 100 feet of structures?

-Cindy, Newbury Park


Recently, VCFD sent homeowners and property managers Fire Hazard Reduction Program (FHRP) notices. This notice reminds Ventura County residents to clear 100 feet of brush away from their properties by June 1, 2020, advising people to remove dry brush near open land where wildfires may occur.  

You can view the informational press release here:

Ventura County Fire requires homeowners and property managers to clear brush away from nearby buildings and maintain 100 feet of defensible space. Dead trees, poorly maintained properties and dry brush greatly increases the risk of fast-spreading, dangerous wildfires. To find out if a parcel has been approved, visit

For more information about how to better prepare your home and property before a wildfire occurs, download a Ready, Set, Go! Brochure, in English or Spanish.  

For additional information on the Fire Hazard Reduction Program, call (805) 389-9759 or send an email to


My question is, when I turn on my oven, there is a strong odor. It doesn’t go away right away. Does the fire dept come to check that out or does the gas co? And what could be the problem?

-Heather, Oxnard


If you suspect a gas leak, evacuate the area and call either 911 or the gas company at 1-800-427-2200.

In order to keep your natural gas appliances operating safely and efficiently, it's important to perform regular maintenance and repairs. While maintaining your natural gas appliances is ultimately your responsibility. You can contact SoCalGas or a qualified appliance repair person to inspect your natural gas appliances.


Where is a fire most likely to break out in your home?

-Andy, Camarillo


According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), fires start for a variety of reasons. The top causes of fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Follow this link for additional information.


Carbon monoxide monitor continues to goes off- Who do we contact?

-Ralph, Ventura


Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help (911) from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.

If your CO alarm is intermittently  beeping you can read on the back of the unit what the beeps mean. Many times it is an indication that you simply need to replace your CO alarm, as they are only good for so many years. For example:

1 beep every minute: This means that the alarm has low batteries and you should replace them.

5 beeps every minute: This means your alarm has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced with a new carbon monoxide alarm.



Why do you put a smoke alarm in every bedroom? I want to know because when the smoke alarm went off at our house in my mom and dad’s bedroom (because a bug was in it), you could hear it through the whole house.

-Scout, Ojai


That is a great question.  The reason there are smoke alarms in every room is so everyone gets alerted early about smoke anywhere inside the home.  Check our web page about smoke alarms and watch me and Captain Stan talk more about home fire safety


I live at top of hill in the Hobson heights area hit hard by the Thomas Fire. My question is, should another fire come into the area where we are asked to evacuate, where should I put any stored gas before I leave. Should I leave in garage or shed or move these cans to the street away from the home?

-Crystal, Ventura


Never store gasoline in your house. Gasoline is dangerous. Keep your fuel stored in a shed, free-standing garage, or other secure well-ventilated outbuilding away from the house.  Never smoke or have any open flame in your fuel storage structure and keep a fire extinguisher for flammable liquids on hand.

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