As a boy, Eddie Marez loved interacting with firefighters at community events. In time, his interactions inspired him to join the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Explorer program (now called the Cadet Program). “Being an Explorer made me realize that I liked the firefighter lifestyle, the team atmosphere, and the adrenaline rush of going to an emergency,” he recalls. With that mindset as well as encouragement from the program’s Captain Ralph Rodriguez, Eddie began his first of what has become a 22-year career with the LAFD, where he’s now a captain.
Taking his lead from Captain Rodriguez, Eddie has remained deeply involved with LAFD youth programs. He currently assists in the creation and implementation of the LAFD High School Magnet Program, a four-year program that combines fire service and emergency medicine training and education with the approved high school college-prep curriculum. The first of its kind, it includes fire science classes, first aid and CPR, physical agility training, and leadership training.
“Our goal is for students to become better citizens — to teach them basic life skills in addition to firefighting skills,” Eddie explains. “If they decide to move forward with a career in fire service, they’ll be extremely prepared and well trained.” He describes the program as a “win-win” for both students and the Department and a unique opportunity for students while cultivating the next generation of the LAFD.
Starting in August, the first schools to offer the Magnet program will be Woodrow Wilson and Banning High Schools, where 81 students are signed up to participate. “Our hope is to expand the program to two more schools the following academic year,” Eddie says. “Still, having enough funding to launch and sustain each program is our main hindrance.”
Eddie is looking forward to the first magnet class graduating in 2020. In the meantime, he is devoting himself to making sure this school year is a success. When he’s not working with LAFD youth, Captain Marez focuses on his family, joking about the playful relationships he has with his wife and kids.
Note: LAFD Foundation supporters can donate to the LAFD’s Magnet High School Program directly by going to http://supportlafd.org/donate/pathway-for-youth/, a fundraising initiative benefiting all LAFD Youth programs, including the Magnet High School program.