Every year, the ranks of the LAFD undergo changes as new members join the department, while seasoned veterans bid farewell to a career dedicated to service. Both occasions merit celebration, yet the retirement of a firefighter stands as a testament to a lifetime of commitment and achievement—a day eagerly anticipated by most. The following is demonstration of a career and life well lived.
Born on January 3, 1962, in Los Angeles, California, Dean Zipperman’s journey as a firefighter serves as a testament to dedication, hard work, and the profound influence of an upbringing rooted in strong values. Raised by remarkable parents, Dean’s foundation was built on a solid work ethic, moral principles, and an unwavering commitment to honesty.
During high school, he discovered the Fire Cadet Program, then known as the Explorer Program. Joining Post 93 at Fire Station 93, he was mentored by Captain Truett Sparkman, a figure who left an indelible mark on him. This exposure solidified Dean’s determination to pursue a career in the fire service. In 1980, he applied to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), a process that spanned five years due to a consent decree with the city.
In February 1986, Dean officially joined the LAFD, marking the beginning of an illustrious career. His early days included rigorous training at the drill tower, where he graduated alongside 52 other probationary firefighters. His initial assignment to Battalion 13 Fire Station 66-A set the stage for a career that would span 38 years.
Dean attributes his success and career achievements to the unwavering support of his family, particularly his wife Frankie, who has been the cornerstone of their familial foundation. Frankie’s direct partnership was evident in every facet of their lives, from enduring nights at the fire station to spending birthdays and Christmases away from home—sacrifices made to safeguard the citizens of Los Angeles. Through each career promotion, Frankie stood steadfastly by his side, providing the love and support essential for success.
Dean and Frankie were blessed with four remarkable children who have since grown into successful adults with their own accomplishments. Their three daughters and son shared countless birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmas holidays at the fire stations, becoming an integral part of the extended fire department family. Despite the challenges of being away for 24 hours at the fire station or weeks on wildland deployments, Dean acknowledges the patience and understanding of his family, recognizing their support during missed soccer and baseball games, dances, and back-to-school nights. Dean humbly acknowledges that his family’s understanding was the bedrock of his illustrious career. Now, with their own families, Dean is honored to have shared the firefighter experience with five amazing grandsons, who have had the chance to visit those fire stations and hopefully continue the legacy.
Throughout his journey, Dean Zipperman dedicated himself to learning each rank’s responsibilities, culminating in several promotions:
• Apparatus Operator (July 20, 1997)
• Captain I (January 11, 2004)
• Captain II (August 3, 2008)
• Battalion Chief (August 24, 2014)
• Assistant Chief (February 16, 2020)
In January 2024 Dean finally retired and now reflects back on his proudest achievements—his commitment to learning, mentoring, and giving back to fellow firefighters, but most of all, he’s thankful for a life lived with an incredible wife who is the love of his life and foundation of their family, which includes three wonderful daughters, a strong son and five amazing grandsons.
His retirement plans include adjusting to an open schedule, spending quality time with family, enjoying his grandchildren, and embarking on travel and camping adventures.
Along the way, Dean has had numerous mentors who has guided him throughout his career and would like to express his gratitude to individuals such as Joe Castro, Chris Kawai, John Callahan, Steve Hissong, Tony Varela, Al Poirier, Glen Ames, Mario Rueda, and Daryl Arbuthnott. He recognizes their role in shaping the LAFD’s high standards and ensuring its future success.
Dean Zipperman’s journey is a testament to the values instilled by his parents, the influence of dedicated mentors, and his unwavering commitment to the Los Angeles Fire Department. As he steps into retirement, Dean leaves behind a legacy of leadership, camaraderie, and a profound impact on the firefighting community. We express our heartfelt gratitude to Chief Zipperman for his commitment to excellence, and we extend our best wishes for the next chapter of his life. Happy Retirement, Sir!