“You cannot believe how rewarding it is,” Mario beams, “to have someone tell you that your training saved a life. I get to hear this almost every day.”
Mario Guerra spends a great deal of his time thinking ten moves ahead. For almost 25 years he’s had an entire city to worry about – spread over 110 acres, hundreds of historic buildings and a population numbering in the thousands. It also happens to be a national treasure, one of the most historic and beloved of all the great Hollywood studios.
His is a job of “what ifs,” and more importantly, “what thens.” Meet Mario Guerra, Manager of Emergency Services for the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. His responsibility: to provide the studio with a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, and oversee its implementation.
Few studios take this mission more seriously than Warner Bros. In fact, of all the major studios, Warner Bros. is the only one that has not lessened its security posture since 9/11. “That event changed everything, of course. And yet, as tragic as it was, there has been a positive outcome. Now, people aren’t as complacent. There was a time when drills were considered an interruption. Today, they’re considered a comfort.”
But Mario’s job is far more encompassing than preparing for a terrorist attack. He calls it an “all hazard approach”, and it’s all about being prepared for any eventuality, be it man made or a natural disaster.
Formerly with Warner Bros. security, Mario is one of only a handful of CEMs (Certified Emergency Managers) on the West Coast. He built this department/program from the ground up, and today it is nationally recognized for its excellence in this field.
Of all his accomplishments, the one in which he takes the most pride is his revitalization of the acclaimed Warner Bros. Safety Warden program, a task he began in early 1988. Today, Mario has shaped the program into an impressive,all-encompassing emergency response network. This year, the program graduated its 178th class in Emergency Warden Training.
On September 8, 2004, Mario received the prestigious Diamond Award from the California Emergency Services Association, based on his knowledge and resources, and especially for helping other organizations and companies set up their own emergency plans and services.
“This is a job about giving back to the community, and that’s what I love about it,” says Mario. “It’s exciting, it’s challenging, and it’s a process that’s in constant evolution. In fact, the Marines have a motto: Semper Fi. It means always faithful. We have a motto, too: Semper Gumby. It means always flexible.”
Mario has been married for 28 years to his high school sweetheart. He has two grown children, a daughter of 23 and a son of 27 who serves in the Navy as a Petty Officer Third Class aboard the USS Carter-Hall. In his free time, Mario is a devoted Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts. He takes his troop camping and backpacking, outings that provide the kind of challenges that will prepare them for life in general. “Teaching is one’s legacy. It is how you give back to this world. Everyone wants to leave their footprint in the sand. For me, those footprints are what I have taught others.”
Mario has been a member of First Entertainment since 1981. He especially likes the fact that at First Entertainment, he’s not just a number – his voice is heard. “It’s all about people giving back to people, and that’s my kind of place.”
Thanks, Mario. We feel a lot more secure just knowing you’re around, too.