The severe lack of moisture in the hillside brush led the Fire Department to cancel the annual fireworks display at the Starlight Bowl, generating considerable interest from media outlets that called Burbank fire officials in disbelief, Bell said.
"People would ask, 'Why are you doing this?' and I'd say, 'Well, you just don't know Burbank. We're not just surrounded by brush, we're in the brush."
In light of the conditions, firefighters have visited canyon homes in the Hillside District throughout the year, directing homeowners to clear the dry and highly flammable brush from their properties, Bell said.
The department's role as a fire-safety educator is as important as enforcement, he added.
"Brush season is 365 days a year," he said. "We're in it and we're going to continue to be in it. And the conditions aren't going to change with a couple of rainstorms."
To minimize the potential negative ramifications of an emergency — be it fire, earthquake, something else — fire officials urge residents to develop a crisis-management plan, Bell said.
The American Red Cross has specific recommendations when it comes to creating a plan that can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation, Red Cross spokesman Nick Samaniego said.
"The bottom line is to make a plan, get a first-aid kit and be trained in life-saving skills," he said.
That means learning basic CPR and first-aid knowledge and having the materials on hand to administer basic treatment techniques, he said.
"You're not only improving the chance of survival, but also the general wellbeing of yourself and your family in case of an emergency," he said.
Red Cross officials also recommend establishing two meeting places in case of an emergency evacuation, he said.
One location should be close to one's residence and the other should be a bit further away, in the event that being too close to one's residence is dangerous, he added.
Also important is establishing out-of-state contacts because crisis situations tend to clog local phone lines and long-distance lines are often easier to access, he said.