The soothing sound of bagpipes and a gentle spring breeze provided the perfect setting for Fire Chief Daryl Osby and his Executive Team to pay tribute to our Department’s fallen heroes at the annual Firefighters Memorial Ceremony held on April 23 at headquarters. Chief officers and chaplains escorted surviving family members to their seats as our Department gathered once again to remember those members who gave their lives to protect the lives and property of others. Joining the ceremony this year was Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott and Rick Velasquez, chief of staff for County Supervisor Don Knabe of the Fourth District.
“This wall and the names inscribed on this wall continue to inspire all of us as it relates to our mission, and we remember them with every step that we take,” said Osby during his remarks at ceremony. “Each and every day as we put on the badge to serve, we honor them.”
This year, no names were added to the Memorial Wall but since gathering at the Memorial last April, our Department has said farewell to six of our members and two of our Fire Explorers. Those gathered paid tribute to all members of our Department who passed away while on-duty or from job-related illnesses. Many surviving family members, friends and coworkers of our fallen were in attendance to remember their loved ones.
“Today we honor their heroic actions, and we are in awe of their bravery in the last moments of their lives,” said Osby. “Their sense of duty never wavered, and as we read their names today, our promise to remember them will not waver. With our deepest respect and gratitude, we remember our heroes of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.”
Memorable moments of the ceremony included the traditional reading of the names engraved on the wall, the laying of the memorial wreaths from the Los Angeles County Association of Chiefs and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1014, and the ringing of the last alarm. The ceremony concluded with a helicopter flyover and then an inspiring benediction by Chaplain Mark Griffen.
Long before there were telephones and radios in use in America, fire departments used the telegraph to receive fire alarms. When a firefighter fell in the line of duty, an officer would “tap out” a special signal, “five-five-five” over telegraph fire alarm circuits which went to all station houses. The sounding of the traditional “five-five-five” is a symbol of honor and respect for the fallen, and is carried out today just as it was well over 100 years ago.
Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to enjoy a barbecue lunch prepared by our Camp 2 chefs and hosted by Local 1014 at the Cecil R. Gehr Training Center. It was a great opportunity for family members to reminisce about their loved ones and know that they have not been forgotten.