June 29 was "Firefighter Appreciation Night" in a weeklong event held at the home of the Lancaster Jethawks ,"The Hanger" stadium, in Fire Station 130's district. The event honored our Department, along with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff and American Medical Response personnel who provide public safety services to the local community. This is the fourth year that this event was held and the guest of honor from our Department was none other than Division V Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Cosey, who threw out the first pitch.
Planning for this event began in January with emails and ended with weekly meetings sone month prior to the event, with Community Services Representative Carmen Mackey coordinating our Department's participation and placing everything into motion. Fire Captain Scott Polgar coordinated the attendance of the Antelope Valley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which was present throughout the entire seven-day event. Retired Fire Captain Joe Silva presented "Pluggie" the friendly motorized fire hydrant that kids love, while Lisa Ballentine, wife of Fire Fighter Paramedic Brian Ballentine, coordinated a toy drive for the Ladies Auxiliary. Several of our Department's Honor Guard members held the flag of the United States, State of California and Los Angeles County while our country's national anthem was sung by Fire Fighter Paramedic Malachi Upshaw from Fire Station 51. Fire apparatus was on display for the public to view and a CERT booth staffed with civilian volunteers handed out disaster preparedness information and demonstrated how to shut off utilities. A mid-game helicopter flyover by our Department's Air Operations while returning from a response was well received by the crowd of approximately 1,200 people. Post-game fireworks were also a great crowd pleaser for this night.
On July 1, Antelope Valley firefighters competed in one of four charity softball games for the "AV Fallen Heroes" Fund. This fund is managed by several organizations, including the Los Angeles County Fire and Sheriff's Departments, California Highway Patrol, the United States Forest Service, American Medical Response Ambulance (AMR) and the Department of Corrections. Jethawks Stadium donated use of the entire facility for this day-long event, which included one-hour long competition games between each team. Concession stands sold food and beverages for the entire family.
LACoFD firefighters played the second game of the day against AMR in 91-degree heat but lost the valiant battle 16 to 7. AMR went on to the championship game at the end of the day, playing the Antelope Valley CHP; with the CHP winning the final game.
First City Credit Union helped to sponsor this event and donated $500 to the fund. Cash donations of nearly $900 were received by the spectators, and advanced ticket sales were still being tallied at the time of this writing but all indications were that over $1,500 was raised by the combined efforts of everyone involved.
- Fire Fighter Specialist Ryan Golphenee, FS 24 -Team Captain/Coordinator
- Fire Fighter Donnie McLaughlin FS 129 – right field
- Fire Fighter Ryan Grigsby FS 33 – left center
- Fire Fighter Mike Peterson FS 33 – center field
- Fire Fighter Brandon Golphenee – FS 148 – second base
- Fire Fighter Specialist Tommy Williams FS 130 – first base
- Fire Fighter Brian Ballentine FS 73 – third base
- Fire Fighter Specialist Scott Francis FS 134 – pitcher
- Fire Fighter Neal Eggers FS 33 – catcher
- Fire Fighter Guy Giffin FS 24 – infield
- Fire Fighter Markus Cooper FS 24 – outfield
- Fire Fighter Ryan Gennaro FS 130 – infield
- Fire Fighter Justin Cunningham FS 166 – outfield
Throughout the entire week our Department's CERT booth was staffed by a total 27 volunteers who all completed the 20-hour FEMA based curriculum. They played an important role in disseminating approximately 500 L.A. County Emergency Survival Guides to the public. All stated, this was a great event and a testament to "Hometown Attentiveness." We welcome Department members, and their families and friends, to pitch in at next year's event which promises to be bigger and better!