March 26th, 2009 // By davidb
On March 26, 2008, while on-scene at an incident in the Westchester area, City of Los Angeles firefighter Brent Lovrien was killed when an explosion rocked an electrical room. Lovrien, assigned to Task Force 95, was doing his job - protecting lives and property, when he made the ultimate sacrifice.
A year has passed, but the loss of firefighter Lovrien remains in our hearts and minds. For those firefighters who are on duty today, their thoughts are with Brent's family, friends, and loved ones. Every firefighter in Los Angeles trains as if their lives depend on it - because they do. Even though the city experiences far fewer structure fires and other fire-related incidents, each emergency call could signal the last response for any firefighter responding.
The Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society would like to invite you to visit our memorial plaza, where you may see firefighter Lovrien's name on our memorial wall, can experience our lovely plaza - and can reflect on the history of this fine department and those who served for the past 124 years.
An updated report on the loss of firefighter Lovrien can be read here.
October 12th, 2008 // By davidb
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.
October 10th, 2008 // By davidb
Can you imagine touring through a museum and hearing what the dinosaurs were really like? Or what it was like to fight in the Revolutionary War? While we can't boast those credentials, we can offer up something pretty close: Most of our docents were on-the-job LA Firefighters and they are here to tell the tale.
The photo to the right highlights four of our longest-serving volunteers and docents. From the left, Captain Jim Finn (ret) served the LAFD for more than 40 years, retiring just this past month. Benny Holder, also a former Captain, has a wealth of knowledge about the history of the department, even from its earliest years. Bill Dahlquist, our former curator, was a Boat Pilot in the L.A. Harbor, and was lucky enough to serve on the longest-ever in-service piece of firefighting apparatus, Old Fireboat No. 2, the Ralph J. Scott. And finally, Don Dodd, a fireman his entire adult life, comes from a storied family. His great grandfather, Samuel Dodd, was one of the earliest heros of the LAFD, creating the LAFD Firefighting College, perhaps the first truly organized fire preventation, tactics and strategy education center in the country. Together, these four individuals served the LAFD for more years than it has been in existence.
And, there are other former firefighters with stories to tell. Retired Assistant Chief Frank W. Borden fought the Bel Air fire, was involved in a series of major incidents during the course of his career, and was the co-Founder of the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) program. Today, there are literally thousands of CERT teams around the United States.
So, if you're interested in the history of fire in Los Angeles, there's no better place to come and learn than Historic Fire Station 27 in Hollywood or Old Fire Station 36 in the Harbor. We have guys who can tell you how dramatic the Sansinena fire and explosion was, how hot and smoky the L.A. Library fire was, what it was like to serve with Chief Don Anthony, in the Harbor, the Valley, Hollywood, or Skid Row. We have history on nearly any topic you can think of. We even have some horses for you to admire.
Living History at the LAFD Historical Society. We've got lots of it.