Several weeks ago, I participated in the LAFD event “Fahrenheit 2012” where money was raised to provide financial support and community backing to our fabulous fire fighters all throughout Los Angeles. I won an auction to sleep over at a real fire station and ride in a firetruck!
I finally realized this prize Saturday night at Fire Station #27 in Hollywood. Joe Castro, the fabulous batallion chief, was so kind to have carefully orchestrated my visit in advance.
I arrived at Fire House #27 at 6pm to dine with the firemen. The usual number of firefighters on a Friday night is 16, however, part of the team was out covering for another fire station. I had a lovely dinner of pasta and salad prepared by the the firemen who alternate as chefs. The firefighters do all of their own shopping, cooking, and to my surprise, pay for their own groceries!
I was then given a thorough tour of the beautiful firehouse which is relatively new in construction. It sits next door to the original Fire House #27 built in 1930. After years of use and the massive Northridge earthquake that almost reduced it to rubble, it was restored and converted to a fire station museum with a library. Both are located on Cole Avenue in the heart of Hollywood, next to the Police Department.
They have a gym (which I understand receives frequent use as every fire fighter must be able to carry the 70 pounds of equipment on them), and separate dormitories upstairs. The famous pole is still there although I am told they seldom use it as it can cause back problems for the firemen. The firemen go through a rigorous boot camp before making the cut. I am told only 53% of the recruits make it through the boot camp.
As I went on tour of the firehouse I was amazed at the complexity of the fire engines themselves. The firemen who are qualified to operate the pumping equipment go through additional testing and training as it is quite complicated for the engineer who operates the water system on the truck. The firemen all leave their boots and pants right next to the truck as they are given only one minute to go from their rooms or wherever they are in the station to get on the truck and leave.
After my tour, I was driven by the Batallion chief and his associate chief around the district through the Hollywood Bowl traffic and through to Cahuenga Pass station which is a smaller one with only one truck. I was treated to vanilla ice cream and listened in as the firefighters discussed the upcoming ‘retirement dinner’ of one of the most popular chiefs.
We then headed back to fire house 27 and just as we pull in the alarm goes off. One of the firemen opens the door of the big ladder truck which can reach 7 stories high. They throw on my firefighting jacket and I jump aboard the fire truck. We stream out of the fire house with the sirens blazing and head straight down Hollywood Blvd. I felt like I was in a dream, the adrenaline rush was exhilarating. Of course this is everyday fare for these fabulous fire fighters. We arrived at the office building and learn it is a false alarm; apparently 99% of the fire alarm calls are false which is an unfortunate waste of resources, but a necessary one. We get back to the house and while we were out the other engines were called so there is a constant flow of emergencies. I wait for the next alarm and it is an apartment with a fire threat (which they call a structure fire).
This time I am on the fire engine and I am outfitted with earphones and a microphone so I can talk to all the firemen and feel as if I am one of the gang. We are on our way to a nearby apartment building where an outlet has blown up and the wall is heated. The firemen make quick work of eliminating the problem. Our next emergency is a man who is hemorrhaging and is located out of the district, they quickly check the maps for the location and we wind through the Sunset Strip above the Chateau Marmont and I marvel at the drivers ability to navigate through the winding roads and traffic to location. Apparently, the drivers are given special training and each truck costs as much as $500,000. They quickly locate the man and given him emergency care until the ambulance arrives and takes him to the hospital. Back at the firehouse the alarm goes off again and this time it is a drug overdose in the heart of Hollywood so once again, sirens blazing, we race to scene of the emergency. It turns out it is a young man who is passed out probably in a drunken stupor according to the witnesses, so we head back to the station. By now, I am exhausted and ready for some shut eye as it is 2:30am. The firemen do not have the benefit of sleeping when tired, no matter the time of night as they must always be ready to act. I tell them that unless there is a huge emergency to wake me , otherwise I wanted a few hours of sleep before the 6:30am shift change and is my time to head homeward.
I must say that I have tremendous respect for these very hard working fire fighters. The chief commented than since 9/11, fire fighters have received a lot of attention and admiration. As a result of the much deserved attention, the young firemen get a lot more attention than the current chief did when he started in his career which I thought was interesting. The firemen work an average of 56 hours a week. You can rest assure that we are in GREAT hands with the LA Fire Department! I was so honored to meet personally so many of our talented fighters.
See more details below to share your support for our fabulous LAFD!
The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation helps L.A. City firefighters and paramedics serve the community with courage, integrity and pride.
The Los Angeles Fire Deparment Foundation is a support group, providing financial and community backing to the men and women who serve the residents of Los Angeles. Your support at ANY level tells the members of LAFD that we care about the work they do for us. More importantly, providing essential equipment, technology and training keeps our world-class Fire Department at the top of its ability to serve.
The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation is a California non-profit foundation 501 (c) (3). It operates as a formal partner with the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The organization’s support begins where the city budget stops.
It is important that we support our local fire department! Please keep reading for more details about our LAFD.
Public safety is the most important function of city government. Protecting all of us, preventing disasters and taking care of us when they occur is the work of the Fire Department. The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation helps our firefighters and paramedics serve us with courage, integrity and pride.
We are a support group, providing financial support and community backing to the men and women who serve us. Your support at ANY level tells the members of LAFD that we care about the work they do for us. More importantly, providing essential equipment, technology and training keeps our world-class Fire Department at the top of its ability to serve.
Our funding begins where the city budget stops.
The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation is the major source of private financial support for the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). We exist to provide funding for the LAFD to support needs not met by the city budget. Approximately 96% of the budget pays for salaries and benefits, leaving very little for the other needs of the department.
The foundation was created in 2010 by a committed group of volunteers who are business leaders and community activists – people who care deeply about the safety of our city. We support the Fire Department’s work in preparedness and response, funding projects that will enhance the efficiency and modernization of the department. The people of Los Angeles deserve no less.
The LAFD’s 3,586 uniformed personnel and non-sworn cadre of 353 professionals are directly involved in fire prevention, firefighting, emergency medical care, technical rescue, hazardous materials mitigation, disaster response, public education and community service. They are the first responders for any major catastrophe, and have a reputation for being one of the finest departments in the nation, if not the world.
In 2009, the men and women of the LAFD responded 753,428 times to come to the aid of their neighbors in need. They are here for us, and we need to be here for them.
Some of the first grants we have made:
- Computers and a printer-plotter for the Planning Division to run ADAM software. ADAM analyzes response data and enables the department to make deployment decisions in minutes, rather than the days it took before the software and hardware were available.
Services of a grant development consultant to assist the department in identifying and writing grant requests to obtain federal funding.
Laptop computer and accessories to support the Department’s Network Staffing System (NSS), the backbone for tracking member information and sworn payroll.
Funded two youth programs, Pacific Coast Fire Academy and Crenshaw High School Fire Academy, to provide training and exposure to the fire services to high school students.
Wildland hose packs for two fire companies.
Kennels for FEMA task force urban search and rescue dogs.