Retired Guys

April 30, 2018

I’ve always noticed this small advertisement stuck in the corner of our Grapevine magazine about the La Habra Heights Fire Department. I pretty much overlooked this important bit of information until a few weeks ago, when our editor Dave Wagner asked me if I’d be interested in gettin’ some more information about this small department east of Los Angeles.

Capt DeBono and crew

I never knew La Habra Heights existed and I had no idea they even had a fire department. It just so happens that Doug Graft has been the Fire Chief there for the past six years. Doug is a retired B/C from Batt 11 and spent 38 years with the LAFD. Ron Myers retired as a Captain II from FS 90 with 35 LAFD years and is now the Asst Chief of the LHHFD. Together, Doug and Ron have brought much needed organization to this department and have also adopted most LAFD staffin’ and field procedures. “We’ve become ‘LA City South,’” says Graft. “All of our basic ops are the same.”

But the interestin’ thing about the LHHFD is the fact that’s it’s mainly a volunteer department. That is, except for the 16 to 20 paid captains that work a couple of shifts a month. Six of these captains also happen to be retired LA City guys: Rick McClure, Chuck Bucher, Ed Martin, Greg Terrill, Ron Klamecki and Carl DeBono.

Chiefs Graft and Myers

For 60 to 80 young volunteer firefighters, LHHFD has become a trainin’ ground. After graduatin’ from a Fire Academy, these individuals submit applications to the LHHFD, hopin’ for an interview and a chance to become a volunteer. According to Myers, “In less than a year, these kids are completely different people. We try to give them a head start with their demeanor, knowledge base, attitude and understanding.”

This valuable experience very often helps them land a career with a bigger department relates Graft. “Someone told me that we have the biggest fire department in the world. When I asked what he meant, he replied that departments everywhere have guys that have worked for La Habra Heights.”

Right now the LHHFD is lookin’ to hire a Fire Marshal and part-time brush clearance inspectors. And they are always looking to hire retired firefighter/paramedics and captains from the LAFD, as well as from other departments. So, if you miss the station house camaraderie and don’t mind goin’ on one or two runs a day, this might be just the thing for you.

Doug and Ron, thanks for sittin’ down with us and givin’ us your time and information. The City of La Habra and those that live there are very fortunate havin’ two dedicated and qualified individuals in charge of their fire department.

I’ve been givin’ the LHHFD serious thought. This could be the band aid to cover my open sore I have from my failed attempt at becomin’ a Captain II. I think becomin’ a Captain for them would be a big step in beginnin’ my healin’ process.

I wonder if my festerin’ wound would heal faster if I became a chief for the LHHFD? Oh Lord, please don’t tease me.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top