Under a remarkable clear sky, with a breeze and the feeling of fall in the air, LA Firefighters, fallen firefighter family members, city leaders and the community came together to remember our fallen heroes. The LAFD Honor Guard opened the event with a moving entry into the Memorial Plaza. Captain Steven Owens (76-C), acted as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed speeches by Councilmember Dennis Zine, Councilmember Janice Hahn, Fire Commissioner Genethia Hudley-Hayes, Fire Chief Douglas Barry, and others. Singer Tim Davis delivered a memorable musical performance.
The highlight of the day was shared by the daughter of a fallen member of the Department. Jessica Reiner, whose father (Eric Reiner 81-B) was killed in the crash of Fire 3 ten years ago, read a letter she wrote to her father. Her rich voice, clear message and endearing words to a missing dad will be remembered by anyone in attendance for a long time. The Reiner family can be proud of Eric's memory, and the LAFD is proud of the commitment to excellent every member of the family demonstrates at each public event in which they participate.
Other family members, some who have not previously seen the Memorial Plaza were in attendance. Many went up to touch the Wall of Honor that lists the names of all 254 fallen members of the department (as of August 1, 2008). Of special note was the presence of the two new "Hollywood Stars" in front of the middle apparatus bay door of Historic Fire Station 27. Initially authorized by the late Johnny Grant, these stars memorialize the two firemen assigned to Station 27: Captain Michael Carter and Fireman James Hassan. Fireman Hassan's daughter was present at Saturday's event. And, although not noted in the official program, LAFD Historic Society board member Ted Aquaro is to be commended for his continual support of all fallen firefighter's families. They all look to him as their stanchion of support and link between their loved ones and the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Battalion Chief Dan McCarty played "taps" and all 255 names (one not yet added to the wall) of those who lost their lives while on-the-job were read aloud. Retired Assistant Chief Frank W. Borden spoke and as a fitting conclusion to the event, the LAFD Air Ops Division sent three helicopters (two Bell 412 models and a Bell 206) to fly over the gathering.
And while the event was moving, it was important to see the community and the fire department come together as they did. The celebration of these fallen firefighters lives was the cornerstone of the comments made by every speaker. Their stories and their commitment to the City of Los Angeles can now be memorialized forever - and we invite you to visit our Memorial Plaza at any time.