For Captain Dustin Clark, the familial bonds between himself and other firefighters have more meaning than most. The son of a captain who retired with 34 years on the job, and nephew to four uncles with similar stories, Dusty was born and bred into the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Raised in Capistrano Beach, CA, Dusty knew by the age of six that he wanted to spend his life fighting fires. He became a San Clemente Explorer at age 14; at 16, he joined the LAFD Explorer Program — now known as the Cadet Program. Dusty participated in both youth programs simultaneously until he was 18 years old. Soon after, he became a federal firefighter until he joined the LAFD at age 20.
For Dusty, the LAFD is more than just a job, which offers up a clue as to why he’s involved in so many aspects of the fire service. In addition to working as a co-captain with his first cousin at Station 9 — one of the busiest fire stations in the country — Dusty also serves as an Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) instructor and a member of the Swift Water Rescue team.
Though all these positions contribute to the person he is today, Dusty has had one role with the LAFD that has “defined [him] not only as a firefighter, but as a person.” Following the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, Dusty was hand-picked to join “Battalion 8,” a cohort of eight LAFD members who traveled to New York to assist the FDNY for eight days. During that time, Battalion 8 worked shoulder to shoulder with the FDNY, clearing out rubble and uncovering human remains.
Today, Dusty says, he still has an enduring bond with Battalion 8, “a bond that can only be forged in those kinds of unimaginable circumstances.” In fact, one of the group’s members ended up marrying Dusty’s cousin.
With broadly varied responsibilities and an unceasing willingness to lend a hand for special activities (not to mention his support of Fahrenheit 2017, which the Foundation couldn’t have pulled off without him!) Captain Dusty Clark exemplifies the talent and dedication reserved for the best of the LAFD. Whether related by blood or not, he clearly considers the men and women he works with as “family” — those for whom he’s always willing to go the extra mile.