Malibu resident Kurt Kamm has used his access to Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City firefighters and his experience in several devastating local wildfires to write his novels. He has also attended classes at El Camino Fire Academy and training sessions in arson investigation and hazardous materials response.
One of the Malibu fires, the 60 mile-per-hour Santa Ana wind-driven Canyon Fire, burned to his front door and destroyed the homes of several neighbors. Mr. Kamm said the lessons he learned from L.A. County Fire Department while writing his books helped him save his home.
Kurt lives with his wife and three dogs. He was previously a financial executive and semi- professional bicycle racer. He was Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation and is an avid supporter of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
From Kurt Kamm:
I have written three firefighter mystery novels, and have been privileged to participate in exercises, academies and training camps run by various fire agencies. I have also been to a number of fires and other emergency events, all of which have contributed to creating a sense of reality in my novels. One event, which I have not written about in any of my books, is my favorite story.
While working on my serial arson mystery, RED FLAG WARNING, I was invited to attend a weeklong CalFire training academy for arson investigation. The state takes arson very seriously, and fields a large team of firefighter-investigators who have law enforcement training as well.
During a two-day period, I rode around the central coast of California with one of the instructors. We were designated "suspect 1" and "suspect 2." The investigators pursued us in several vehicles and the objective was to catch us in the act of starting fires. During the day, we used bundles of red rags, which we tossed from our truck, to "ignite" fires. At night (the exercise went on until 10:00 PM) we used glowing green rings. Every 2-3 hours we stopped for debriefing.
On the second night, at the end of the exercise, we were being pursued down a country road. Coincidentally, we passed a CalFire station, and left a glowing green ring at the front door of the office. We thought it was hilarious that we had "set fire" to a fire station. We then escaped to a typical back road tavern.
Inside, the bar was filled with men wearing sleeveless shirts. Their arms, covered with tattoos, were the size of my legs. We ordered cokes (my instructor was on duty) which immediately attracted attention.
Caught up in the excitement of being chased around for two days by firemen/cops with guns, I was still in the role of "suspect #2." I asked the bartender, a very tough looking woman, whether there was a back exit to the bar. She replied yes, and asked why I wanted to know. To this day, I don't know why, but I said, "We've been out setting fires all day, and the police are after us. We may have to escape."
We were immediately surrounded by every man in the bar, and the bartender yelled, "Don't let them get away, I'm calling the Sheriff."
My instructor, fearing for his life, pulled out his badge, waved it in the air, and explained that we were involved in a "law enforcement exercise, and no crimes have been committed."
The crowd backed off a little, and he hustled me out of the bar, where we waited to be arrested by the CalFire men chasing us.
I promise this is a true story, and want to tell you that I am sparing you the tale of what happened to me in the basement of the Los Angeles County Morgue while I was researching CODE BLOOD.
Kurt Kamm/Malibu CA/November 2011
Kurt Kamm's website:
Kurt's website has a gallery of fire photos. I've chosen four of them that spoke to me. They are outstanding!