In 1982, after one such fire that began in Dayton Canyon, Buddy Ebsen, a long-time
resident of Liberty Canyon, called the community to action. Through the tireless
efforts of Buddy and his daughter Cathy, a cadre of volunteers was formed
to assist law enforcement and fire authorities in the prevention of these
enormously destructive fires. Thus, Community ARSON WATCH was born.
Today, more than reactive, volunteers of all ages and background patrol the Santa Monica Mountains during periods of extreme fire weather conditions. They cover an area over 185 square miles, logging somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 total volunteer hours. These ARSON WATCH Volunteers use their own vehicles (identified by magnetic ARSON WATCH signs) and two-way radios (donated by FAWDS, Inc.).
As many as 60 calls per season are passed on to public safety agencies. In the 18 years that ARSON WATCH Volunteers have been on patrol, only one major fire has been started in the Topanga/Malibu area. It was an ARSON WATCH volunteer who reported the Old Topanga Canyon/Malibu Fire in November I993.
During the I993 and 1996 wildfires, ARSON WATCH Volunteers assisted the Sheriffs Department and the Highway Patrol with traffic control. They also provided information to the Fire Department, Sheriff's Department, Highway Patrol, Topanga Emergency Operations Center and the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness.
Danger from natural disasters will only increase in the future as the population density grows in the Santa Monica Mountains. Early warning and deterrence are the most effective ways to deal with the constant threat of fire danger. ARSON WATCH volunteers are committed to doing their part by continuing their diligent patrols and persisting in their disaster preparedness efforts.
ARSON WATCH is a completely volunteer organization funded by the non-profit "Friends of the ARSON WATCH and disaster Services, Inc. (FAWDS)."
Donations to this organization help to purchase vital communication equipment and other crucial supplies. If you wish to contribute, mail your tax-deductible donation to FAWDS at: P.O. Box 197, Topanga, CA 90290 More volunteers are always needed. If you wish to become a volunteer, please call (310) 455-4244.