The Los Angeles County Fire Department hosted a delegation of firefighters from Taiwan’s Tainan City Government Fire Bureau (TCGFB) from Monday, October 9, 2017 through Friday, October 13, 2017. The firefighters’ visit was arranged in response to an official request for training from the Tainan City Government Fire Bureau Commissioner Lee Ming-Feng to Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby. An increase in line of duty deaths for firefighters in Taiwan over the past decade was the primary motivation for the Commissioner in seeking the specialized training opportunity.
Fire Captain Joseph Chen, Del Valle Regional Training Center Facility Coordinator, was tasked with coordinating the itinerary in his previous role as the Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Coordinator when the training was first authorized by Chief Osby. Chen was especially honored to guide the delegation of firefighters, as Tainan happens by chance to be the hometown of his mother.
The delegation of nine from Tainan included some of their most distinguished personnel, including one secretary (deputy chief), five section chiefs, one fire captain and two firefighters, many of whom were first responders to a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Taiwan on February 6, 2016. Tainan was hard hit by the earthquake as 115 people died in a collapsed residential building.
Having no language-barrier was certainly helpful as Chen led the team each day. But what he said impressed him about the group was “…their enthusiasm to effect change in order to save the lives of firefighters back in Taiwan.” He also shared his profound appreciation for their intention, self-sacrifice, and clear purpose in coming all this way.
The week long schedule for the group included a three-day intensive Firefighter Rescue training with Fire Fighter Specialist Mike Richey, Rapid Intervention Crew training with Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 103, and a comprehensive Department tour complete with a ride-along and visits to key operation centers.
“The fact that they reached out to our Department really speaks volumes about our well-deserved reputation locally, nationally and internationally,” said Chen as he expressed his thankfulness for the support of Department personnel who contributed in making the training a success. Special thanks to everyone provided key support throughout the week: Chief Deputy David R. Richardson Jr., Deputy Fire Chief William McCloud, Technical Operations Battalion Chief Robert Harris, Assistant Fire Chief Derek Alkonis, Battalion Chief Patrick Errett, Fire Fighter Specialist Fred Barbosa and Senior Fleet Mechanic Jack Kou.