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Burbank firefighter injured in fall

Rock-climbing incident while off duty is blamed on equipment failure.

April 17, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

A Burbank firefighter remains hospitalized after an equipment malfunction caused him to fall 25 to 35 feet while he was rock climbing late Monday morning in Chatsworth, officials said.

Battalion Chief Steve Briggs said he and other firefighters and family members have been visiting with the 32-year-old firefighter, who was off duty at the time of the accident. His identity has not been disclosed.

At about 10:30 a.m. Monday, the firefighter was climbing at Stony Point and was lowering himself down from a rock face to the ground when his equipment malfunctioned and he experienced a “controlled fall,” Briggs said.

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“We're not investigating; we're trying to help him get an idea of what happened,” Briggs said. “He didn't free-fall. He had a controlled fall along the rock face and struck the ground pretty hard. He wasn't unconscious at any point.”

The 41/2-year department veteran had his cellphone with him and made his own 911 call, Briggs said.

Los Angeles city firefighters responded to Stony Point, a popular rock-climbing area, and had to airlift the firefighter because it's “a remote area, and it would have been difficult to hike him up,” Briggs said.

The firefighter was admitted to the Mission Hills Hospital trauma center, and [the hospital] “ran a whole bunch of tests,” Briggs said.

“He got some pretty good scrapes, cuts and bruises,” Briggs added.

He anticipated the firefighter would probably spend a couple of more days in the hospital.

The firefighter's wife, parents, brother and sister were with him at the hospital, along with L.A. and Burbank firefighters, Briggs said.

“He's been awake and talking the whole time,” Briggs said, adding that “it's a real tight brotherhood and sisterhood, and any time one of our own gets hurt, it's amazing how many people show up.”

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