November 11th, 2012 // By davidb
Being a member of the United States Marines is considered a special opportunity. Not only do Marines pave the way strategically, but they are about more than combat. As with all service branches, the Marines are about service.
Marine Captain Matthew P. Manoukian was raised in a family committed to service. His uncle, William Bamattre, was the Fire Chief for the Los Angeles Fire Department for 11 years. His commitment to service saw him deployed on multiple occasions to Iraq and then Afghanistan. As his uncle said, he was there to "provide confidence to locals who were being intimidated by various factions..." A black belt, with two Purple Hearts, two Navy-Marine Corps Commandation Medals and two Combat Action Ribbons, Manoukian thought law would be a good post-military career.
On August 10, while working to train others, Manoukian and two other Marines were killed by a renegade Afghan police officer. He was 29 years old.
There are many Manoukian's out there. They are sons, daughters, nephews, nieces. They are fathers, uncles, aunts, and just "good friends." They serve their country without political party. They serve to protect the United States - and we owe them our thanks and our hearts. They keep us safe, and for that, they give their lives.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CAPTAIN MANOUKIAN
"The man who will go where his colors go without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in a jungle or a mountain range, and who will suffer and die; in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to democratic America. He is the stuff of which legends are made. His pride is his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obedience is to his orders. As a legionnaire, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world...today he is called United States Marine."
LT COL FEHRENBACH, USA, in "This Kind of War"
October 13th, 2012 // By davidb
Today is the day we remember those Los Angeles Firefighters who gave their lives so that others might live. On occasion, someone will ask why we do this? After all, these aren't soldiers fighting to protect freedom. These are firefighters - we see them nearly every day. So, why do we need a day to remember them?
Your Los Angeles Fire Department is more than 125 years old now. And during that period of time, the Department has saved the lives of thousands of people in and around Los Angeles. Often, the people saved have suffered a stroke, been hit by a bus, or have collapsed due to a heart attack. In Los Angeles, with more than 1,000 emergency responses per day, and more than 500 transports to local hospitals in an average 24-hour period, you might think the process of saving lives is routine. It may seem that way, but it isn't.
For people watching the freeway rescue taking place on March 23, 1998, it seemed that Fire 3, the air ambulance that picked up a young patient was just doing what it normally did. Minutes later, the helicopter crashed, within minutes of its destination. The young patient, along with LAFD members Michael McComb, Eric Reiner, and Michael Butler were killed. Not an ordinary day.
When the Naval Reserve Training Center's attic was discovered to be fully involved with fire on September 27, 1980, the fire attack initiated by the LAFD seemed to be managed with the military precision that the Department is known for. When firefighter Frank Hotchkin stepped onto the roof to provide support, it collapsed, sending young Hotchkin to his death. Not an ordinary day.
The stories continue - and there are nearly 200 of them. Each one is personal. Each one involves a parent, a sibling, a friend, and co-workers. On February 18, 2011, firefighters responded to a structure fire in the Hollywood Hills. After a few minutes, the living area of the home appeared to be clear of smoke, and the size up suggested a stubborn fire might be in one of the walls. Without warning, the ceiling collapsed, burying firefighters in the rubble, and mortally wounding Glen Allen. To many watching, it was just another routine fire on an ordinary day. It was not an ordinary day for the LAFD.
Every October, the LAFD gathers in Hollywood, at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial outside of the LAFD Museum. Fire officials speak. Historians remember. Taps are played. Bells are rung and names are read. And we remember. We remember that every day is a special day for the people who live in Los Angeles. The weather is nearly always perfect. The ocean is close by. The clubs are filled with party-goers. The film industry cranks out blockbusters. And the LAFD responds - every day, 24/7/365. And every one of its 3,400+ members wears a badge that reads "LAFD." That badge represents a commitment - a commitment to give up their life at any time to protect lives and property. That's why we remember.
Learn more about those members who died in the line of duty. [ Learn More ]
Support the LAFD Museum and Memorial. Give Generously. [ Donate ]
The Museum and Memorial Plaza are open every weekend from 10A to 4P in Hollywood. Please visit and discover the remarkable history of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
"LAFD Heroes" video produced by David and Cameron Barrett. Used with the courtesy of the LAFD Foundation.
February 18th, 2011 // By davidb
Glenn L. Allen, a firefighter with the City of Los Angeles, died today following injuries sustained while fighting a structure fire in the Hollywood Hills on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Firefighter Allen had 36 years of service with the department, the last 17 at Fire Station 97.
Firefighter Allen was involved in interior fire attack with several other companies when the ceiling of the structure collapsed under the weight of a broken fire sprinkler line (tentative assessment) that filled the attic area with water. Fellow firefighters used circular saws and other tools to effect an extrication of FF Allen, who was non responsive and in full cardiac arrest when removed from the occupancy. LAFD Paramedics were successful in restoring vitals and rushed the gravely injured firefighter to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. After a two-day battle, firefighter Allen died with his family at his bedside.
At a news conference conduced this afternoon at Fire Station 3, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed the sadness felt across the city. "Today, I join all Angelenos in mourning the loss of firefighter Glenn Allen, a fearlessly committed firefighter who dedicated ... years of his life to protecting the people of Los Angeles," he said.
"Glenn was a valiant hero whose selfless sacrifice will forever be honored. This tragedy serves as a somber, yet powerful reminder that the brave men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe from harm. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of firefighter Allen and his extended family of firefighters at LAFD."
Fire Chief Millage Peaks, who spent considerable time at the hospital and with Allen's family, was visibly moved, saying, "his daughter was at his side when he died. She is expecting her first child in just a few days."
In addition to the Fire Chief's message, the LAFD expressed gratitude at the support received from the public, saying, "The Allen Family and the Los Angeles Fire Department has received a tremendous outpouring of support during this difficult time. Your Firefighters wish to thank you and express our deepest appreciation for all the kind words and gestures that have been provided."
The last LAFD firefighter to be killed in the line of duty was 35-year-old Brent Lovrien, a 10-year department veteran, in March 2008.
A funeral is tentatively scheduled for Friday, February 25th. For additional details, please visit the LAFD website at: www.lafd.org
December 4th, 2009 // By davidb
Early in the morning of December 4, 1984, the Los Angeles Fire Department lost one of its firefighters in the midst of a greater alarm structure fire near the Los Angeles International Airport. Firefighter Ben Pinel was part of a fire attack team when he became separated from his crew. We invite you to learn more about Firefighter Pinel and his ultimate sacrifice for the City of Los Angeles. To learn more, click here.
We also encourage you to visit the LAFD Museum and Memorial in Hollywood. Firefighter Pinel's name is on our memorial wall, and you may make a donation in his name - or purchase a memorial paver for our plaza.
October 13th, 2009 // By davidb
The LAFD Historical Society, Museum & Memorial would like to thank all of those who attended the 2009 Memorial event here in Hollywood. Each year, we gather to pay our respects to those firefighters who served the public and gave their lives so that others might live.
Each year, the LAFDHS creates a special event, dedicated to our Los Angeles firefighters. Each year, we unfortunately are adding names to teh memorial wall in front of Old Fire Station 27 in Hollywood. This remains a dangerous job, and every ounce of support from the public is important, not only to the department, but to the families of fallen firefighters as well.
Thank you again for your support!
We encourage you to continue that support with the purchase of a memorial paver or other donation. The LAFD Museum operates solely with funding from donations and membership fees. Your support is greatly appreciated.
March 27th, 2009 // By davidb
This coming April 25, the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society will host a memorial service to honor the 30th anniversary of the death of City of Los Angeles Firefighter Brian E. Phillips. Firefighter Phillips, a department member for nearly six years, was killed when he was thrown from an aerial ladder during ladder pipe operations while on scene at an arson structure fire.
Firefighter Phillips was assigned to Task Force 102 in the San Fernando Valley. At about 7:30PM on the 25th of April 1979, the long ring sent firefighters to their apparatus for a reported structure fire at Mullin Lumber Company on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Arriving firefighters discovered a working fire and began deployment of resources to engage in suppression activities. It was during the firefight that Phillips was thrown to the street when the ladder pipe assembly came loose on truck 102.
Brian's father, Terry Phillips, served the City of Los Angeles for 26 years and retired as a captain in 1967. When he died, Firefighter Phillips was survived by his wife, Brenda, and a stepdaughter, Michelle Lee Cupp.
The LAFD Historical Society honors all fallen firefighters and the public is welcome to visit the memorial plaza. There, etched on the memorial wall, you can view Brian Phillips name, as well as the 254+ other LA City Firefighters who died while protecting the citizens of the city of Angels.
Please honor Brian by attending a special 30th anniversary memorial service. It will be held on the 25th of April, 2009 at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood. Please refer to the website calendar for specifics on the event.
March 2nd, 2009 // By davidb
The Los Angeles Police Department and indeed the City of Los Angeles is mourning the loss of Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner, who died suddenly this weekend. Chief Garner was known as a decisive, direct individual who spent every day of his career concerned for the citizens who live and work in the city of Angels. Chief Garner attended several of our events and we join in offering our condolences to the department and his family.
Los Angeles Times Journalist Sandy Banks has written a moving tribute to Chief Garner. You may read it by clicking here.
For additional information, please visit the LAPD website.
July 17th, 2008 // By davidb
December typically signals the arrival of winter over fall, with holiday decorations, office parties, and a general feeling of good cheer. Even in Los Angeles, the weather changes, even if only slightly, and the evenings are cooler; the days shorter.
It was cool and quiet on December 4, 1984 as Los Angeles Police Officers Joe Ransfer and Robert Lopez patrolled in their car the area surrounding Los Angeles International Airport. As they drove past the southern runways at about 4:50AM, they were stunned to see flames punching through the roof of The Proud Bird restaurant. A radio call was made and OCD issued a structure fire assignment at 4:54AM (TF 95, TF5, E80, BC4).
First in units realized they had a working fire and the initial "size-up" resulted in additional units being called. Within minutes 23 companies and Deputy Chief Don Anthony were either on scene or en route, including Engine 54.
The fire was stubborn, having actually been started by thieves just after midnight - it had a nearly five hour head-start and had pushed its way from the main floor of the restaurant into the huge 130 by 175 foot attic of the facility. The unique construction of the building also made the attack difficult. The roof contained a maze of construction beams, supports and other elements that diluted the traditional venting operations of firefighters on the roof.
As an interior attack continued, the crew of Engine 54, including Captain Jim N. DiGrado, Firefighters Walter T. Barnett and Benjamin Pinel were working an inch-and-a-half line through the ballroom. Engine 66 was engaged in a similar effort. Suddenly, without warning, a tremendous flashover occurred, pushing firefighters back due to the extreme heat and fire. Engine 66 and 54 retreated to the street, only to discover that Firefighter Pinel was missing.
Firefighters re-entered the building in search of Pinel, including Firefighter Johnny Garcia of Truck 64. Garcia followed the hoseline from 54s to the nozzle, but couldn't find Pinel. As he peered though the dark, murky smoke, he heard the low-air warning from Pinel's breathing apparatus, plus the personal alarm device (PAL) on Pinel's turnout coat.
Michael and Benjamin (Right) Pinel At Graduation 1983
Garcia was forced to abandon the building for a fresh air bottle, but immediately returned to continue his search. Now, only the tone from Pinel's PAL device could be heard, but Pinel himself was not to be found. As his air ran low, Garcia, now exhausted, exited the building for a third air bottle and a third attempt to find the missing firefighter.
As Garcia and others searched, the fire in the attic continued to escalate. Firefighting and search and rescue operations were ongoing and after awhile, Pinel was found, about 75 feet from the nozzle of his line. He had apparently attempted to exit in a wrong direction and became disoriented. He did not survive and heat and smoke in the ballroom.
Benjamin Pinel left a wife and six-month old daughter behind, and a brother who was also a firefighter, Michael, then stationed at Task Force 66. Garcia was awarded the medal of valor for his efforts. Arson investigators later arrested Jose Jesus Davilla related to the arson fire at the restaurant, but he was not convicted, due to a lack of hard evidence. He was deported to Mexico, having been in the US illegally.
Today, 21 years later. all Los Angeles firefighters remember Pinel, Garcia, and the Proud Bird. The name of Pinel is inscribed on the wall of the new Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood, just outside Old Fire Station 27. If you ask anyone who hears about this story, they're likely to tell you Pinel was a hero. If you ask a firefighter, they're more likely to say, "it's just another part of the job."