Hope for Firefighters

June 30, 2018

Some things in life should be experienced firsthand—Firefighters for Hope is one of them. In the early morning hours of June 7, 2018, the streets of downtown Los Angeles came alive as scores of volunteers, downtown workers, and, of course, firefighters began the momentous task of setting up for a day of fun, food, and games—all for the benefit of the Widows, Orphans, & Disabled Firemen’s Fund.

This was the 21st year for Hope for Firefighters, an event made possible by the generous donations of such corporations as Ralphs-Food4Less, and U.S. Bank. We also would like to thank Brookfield Properties, Allied Universal and 400 South Hope Street/CBRE for their long-standing support of the event. Months of planning by the Relief Association’s own Juliet Brandolino, along with Co-Chairs, Steve Robinson, Heather Ross, and founder, Paul Linton made the well-coordinated proceedings a reality once more. This year, more than 25 fire stations and other fire resources participated as they planned, cooked, and entertained—with some even putting on skirts . . . okay kilts . . . to assure the success of the event.

The talented pilots of Air Operations opened Hope with a low-level flyby over the excited crowd, followed by a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Ms. Lea Nicole. The Master of Ceremonies was none other than B/C Steve Ruda, who once again kept the people engaged and entertained throughout the entire day.

As the morning progressed, the rows of tents set up on Hope Street soon filled the air with the scent of their tasty dishes, enticing eager downtown workers to wait in line to sample the individual station’s culinary treats. The crew from FS 9 and sponsor Operating Engineers Local 501 had double duty as they not only set up multiple aerial ladders to display the American flag, they also brought their best chef skills to cook up some fabulous tri-tip. Although the group from FS 88 and their sponsor Bay Alarm Company was smaller in number than their downtown rivals, the brisket smoked by Mike Finger and his cohorts at their Flintstone themed booth was no less spectacular.

FS 21 and their sponsor Straussner Sherman took best dessert while maintaining “Law and Order” outfitted in their “Cops” motif. They even went the extra mile setting up their own temporary jail just in case. Speaking of motifs, FS 10 and Brookfield Properties received the Best Theme Award for their “Braveheart” booth. Captain Tom Jaramillo and his crew showed what is possible with a little imagination–oh, and a willingness to show a little leg. Fire Station 27 and Environmental Contracting showed Hollywood was still glamorous by taking top honors for their Glazed Chicken wings, while the other Hollywood stars from Station 35 and R&R Electric went native as they brought a taste of the Hawaiian Islands to the downtown area. Representing the eastside was FS 50 and Red Hawk Fire & Security who brought down “the wall” by importing some spices for their south of the border themed menu. The Valley was well represented by stations such as 78 and their sponsor R.E Smith that served up a wicked pork belly dish. Station 98 and 87 also did their part wowing the crowd with their culinary offerings. Fire Station 26, 55, 61, 69 and the FPB cooled the crowd by offering mochas, juices, and other cold drinks. Let’s not forget FS 64 and their sponsor, Public Safety Financial\Galloway and their representative Brad Standage for their contributions of ceviche with chips. Other stations such as 1, 2, 3, 11, and 55 showed their pride by wearing their individual station’s shirts while cooking up their best dishes.

Wilshire the Fire Dog won over the crowd, posing with civilians and fire department members alike. Thanks to Station 29 and especially Captain Penrod for sharing their mascot for the day. Retired S/A, or EID for you youngsters, Phil Weireter manned Shop Number 1058 all morning long, allowing the crowd to relive some nostalgia of the LAFD. The Fire Hogs once again showed their support for the Relief Association as they displayed their motorcycles and cooking skills to the very young, and even the young at heart, who dream of one day riding on the open road. Don’t forget to support the Fire Hogs on July 14, 2018, as they remember our fallen firefighters during their 20th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial. The event is open to ALL, whether you ride or not. More details can be found at FIREHOGS.ORG.

A special thanks to the band Emerald City for keeping the crowd entertained with their musical talents as the group of downtown workers competed in the traditional fire muster events. The team from Brookfield Properties took 1st place in the overall events, followed by a close 2nd by California Hospitals. Otis Elevator was able to lift themselves into the 3rd overall position. Congratulations to all who participated. Captain Steve Romas, retired Captain Rick Denning, and that “county guy” Larry Hoerner, Jim Stiglich and others, kept the activities flowing and the participants safe as they showed off their newly acquired firefighting skills. An additional thank you goes out to all the Relief Association employees and the army of volunteers who stepped up and did their part during the festivities and beyond. Without their help an event of this magnitude would not be possible. Thank you all again who participated. We HOPE to see you next year when we celebrate Hope for Firefighters 2019!

By John Hicks
Photos by Deborah Lew, Juan-Carlos Sanchez, John Hicks, and Yvonne Griffin

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