On Friday, February 13, 2015, the Los Angeles Fire Department dedicated the MFC Dispatch Floor to fallen LAFD Captain Matthew McKnight. The ceremony was held to honor Captain McKnight’s contributions to the Communication Center and to the citizens of Los Angeles. In addition to the renaming ceremony, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas also honored five other members of the LAFD who passed away while on active duty at OCD/MFC. The other members are: Firefighters Peter D. Rose, John Scott Phillips, Michael D. Hallett, Juan Ojeda, and Reiner A. Montiel. The families of all six members were present at the ceremony.
Captain/Paramedic Matthew G. McKnight faithfully served the City of Los Angeles and its citizens for more than 31 years. Throughout his career, Captain McKnight was assigned to OCD as a Firefighter/Dispatcher. As an officer, he returned to OCD as a floor Captain and transitioned to MFC operations where he served for nearly 10 years. On August 2013, while on duty, Captain McKnight passed away from a duty-related medical condition. His passing deeply affected the hearts of all members of the MFC. Captain McKnight was greatly respected and admired by all those that worked alongside him. He left behind his wife Sylvia, and his now 16-year-old daughter Lauren, and 14-year-old son Matthew.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas, President of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Frank Lima, and LAFD Battalion Chief Steven Ruda presented the renaming of the MFC dispatch floor to “The Matthew G. McKnight Fire Communications Center” to LAFD family members and guests.
The reality of a new and improved MFC began in the spring of 2002, when City of Los Angeles voters approved Proposition Q, a citywide Public Safety Bond Measure to improve and construct new public safety facilities. The plan included a new 84,000 square-foot Emergency Operations Center (EOC) 84,000 square-foot facility. The new EOC would include the new Metropolitan Fire Communications Center (MFC) and Fire Station 4. On the early morning of February 28th, 2012, the Los Angeles Fire Department moved from the Operations Control Division (OCD) at four floors below City Hall East, to the new MFC facility at 500 E. Temple Street.
The MFC is a primary and secondary public safety operations center that serves as the fundamental connection between Los Angeles residents in need of emergency fire and medical services. The MFC provides operational and management support for emergency incidents, gathers intelligence, manages emergency public information, and coordinates the resource coverage of fire and rescue units. The MFC is staffed with 26 firefighters/dispatchers and four on-duty officers who work day and night to process the 2,500 emergency calls they receive each day. MFC is one of the busiest 9-1-1 call centers in the nation, serving the great city of Los Angeles.
Further, the MFC has developed a Master Plan to educate the public on the history of the Los Angeles Fire Department. People from across the globe interested in learning more about the LAFD and its rich history often visit the MFC dispatch center. The project will include the placement of historical photos and two display cabinets that showcase historical LAFD memorabilia and Captain McKnight’s personal gear. The project will be developing over the next year and include an interactive virtual display for all visitors.
Captain McKnight and fallen firefighters Rose, Phillips, Hallett, Ojeda and Montiel left a lasting impression on all members who worked beside them. The City of Los Angeles and its citizens will be forever grateful for all of the hard work and courage they demonstrated while serving this great city.
By Marjorie X. Santos
Photos by David Blaire and Rick McClure, EPN