On October 13, 2020, a small group of masked members of the Brush Unit got together to celebrate the retirement of Inspector Ruthie Bernal. With her family by her side, which included her husband, Phil, Ruthie’s mother and father, Irene and Virgil Rush; and Ruthie’s aunt, Maryanne, along with LAFD photographer, David Blaire, the group of family and friends celebrated Ruthie’s career during a safe distancing patio luncheon at Islands Restaurant in Sherman Oaks.
October 15th, 2020, marked the day that Ruthie Belinda Bernal completed 30 years of service with the Los Angeles Fire Department. Ruthie’s career started as a single function paramedic intern at F.S. 52 in Hollywood on April 7, 1991. Her big day came on July 9th, 1991, (her mother’s birthday) when she received her paramedic badge from Fire Chief Donald O. Manning at Drill Tower 89’s Recruit Graduation Ceremony.
Upon graduation, Ruthie’s career took her to F.S 13-B on July 14th1991. She was next assigned to F.S. 64-A, followed by her promotion to Lead Paramedic, where she would work at locations that included F.S. 46-B, 34-B, 94-B, and to F.S. 21-C. In July of 1999, Ruthie would be assigned to Quality Improvement, better known as Q.I. Eventually, Ruthie decided to change career paths and she studied hard for promotion to Inspector. She achieved this goal and on January 14, 2001, was assigned to the Brush Clearance Unit of the Fire Prevention Bureau where new challenges awaited her. Ruthie immediately immersed herself into the inner workings of the unit, becoming the liaison with ITA, MIS, and Fire Accounting. Unit Commanders and Command Staff could always count on Ruthie to solve problems, compile reports, and become the Brush Clearance Flyer/Notification Letter Expert.
Ruthie was also the liaison with City Mail and the City Print Shop. When the City needed to develop a new computer program to document brush inspections, Ruthie was instrumental in advising ITA what was needed to accomplish this goal. In the workplace, Ruthie always lit up the room with all her co-workers enjoying her positive attitude and exemplary work ethic. Ruthie Bernal was known as the soul of the Brush Unit. Most would agree that she was an integral part of their unit and she will be greatly missed by all. She embodied the professionalism and the Esprit de Corps of the Los Angeles Fire Department for her entire career.
Through Ruthie’s dedication to the LAFD, particularly to the Brush Unit of our Fire Prevention Bureau, Ruthie earned the honor of being selected as The Fire Inspector of the Year for 2018. The Fire Prevention Bureau thanks Ruthie Belinda Bernal for her many years of dedicated service to The Brush Unit and her 30 years of service to The LAFD and the City of Los Angeles. We all wish her, and her husband, Phil, and their two sons, Justin and Nathan, a long and happy retirement.
Inspector II Paul Terris and David Blaire contributed to the story.
Photos by David Blaire