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Firefighter/ Paramedic Benjamin Arnold

b-arnold-2 When Firefighter/Paramedic Benjamin Arnold joined the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) in 2006, he had no way of knowing his chosen profession would one day take him 7,459 miles away from home.

Born and raised in Southern California, Arnold became a firefighter for the same reasons many of his peers do: the camaraderie, the chance to work with his hands, and the opportunity to help other people.

What sets Arnold apart, however, is his work with the Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), an Israel-based nonprofit that trains and certifies volunteer teams to deploy to Israel during crises. Since its inception in 2009, EVP has trained more than 950 emergency volunteers and professional first-responders throughout the USA and Israel.

Arnold first became involved with the organization through his uncle, a fire chief in Florida. Aware of Arnold’s involvement with his church, he saw an ideal opportunity for Arnold to combine his desire to help others with his love of travel.

Fighting fires in Israel requires different techniques than fighting them in the US. Israeli structures are built to withstand bombings, which means while their contents may burn, the buildings themselves rarely do. To prepare for this scenario, Arnold began his involvement with EVP at a training session in Florida. These trainings are now held once a year at the Del Valle Regional Training Center in Castaic, California. Firefighters pay out of their own pockets to undergo adequate preparation – just another example of their commitment to helping the global community.

Arnold deployed to Israel for the first time in the summer of 2014 as part of Operation Protective Edge, where separate teams of firefighters and medical personnel travelled to Israel to provide much needed support and relief services. His first 18 days in Israel were a huge “eye opener and learning lesson” for him. Assigned to a fire station on Israel’s border, Arnold experienced the notorious conflict first-hand. He arrived back to the US with a newfound understanding of the region and its people, which he then shared with his peers. It was then that he developed EVP’s West Coast Chapter and recruited more LAFD volunteers.

Today, Arnold continues to work as EVP’s West Coast Chapter Division Leader. In November of last year, he deployed to Israel for ten days to assist with the 1,773 fires that were sweeping through the small country.

When he’s not working with EVP, Firefighter/Paramedic Benjamin Arnold is assigned to Fire Station 98, in Pacoima, where he has spent the last four years. He is also a member of the Swift Water Rescue Team, CATF1 FEMA Team, and a USAR Instructor for the LAFD. For Arnold, working with the LAFD has allowed a passionate first-responder the opportunity to serve his community as well as the world beyond.


Captain Chip Cervantes


Captain Chip Cervantes began his journey to become a firefighter as a teenager, when he joined the LA County Fire Department’s Cadet Program — what has since been named the Explorer Program.

Created for young men and women from ages 14 to 20, the Cadet Program teaches them to work side by side with members of the fire department; as cadets, they participate in trainings, meetings, and occasional ride-alongs. But besides helping them learn about fire service, the program’s main goal — both then and now — is to instill a sense of responsibility for their neighborhood through ongoing community-related activities.

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Big news! We are participating in Los Angeles magazine’s GIVE LA Challenge!

What is GIVE LA?

  • GIVE LA is a stand-alone printed supplement that will accompany the December issue of Los Angeles magazine.
  • Its editorial will focus on local philanthropists as well as local nonprofits and how they’re serving Los Angeles.
  • The Foundation was selected to be one of 29 featured nonprofits!

How does the Challenge work?

  • The Challenge begins TOMORROW — Wednesday, November 16 at noon and runs through Monday, January 3, 2017. The donation page is on Crowdrise.
  • Besides the money raised, the nonprofit that raises the most will be eligible to win a Cash Grand Prize.

How YOU can help!

  • Donate! The Challenge starts tomorrow at noon and runs through January 3.
  • Make your donations through the Foundation’s page on Crowdrise and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • Please share this information with everyone you know — let’s get all of us supporting the city’s first responders!


Firefighter Paramedics Gregory Harvey and Cory McDaniel



Located at 7th and St. Julian Streets in L.A.’s Skid Row district and flanked by encampments of homeless people in all directions, LAFD Fire Station 9 is one of the city’s busiest. For its first responders, 80 calls a day is normal. For Firefighter Paramedics Gregory Harvey and Cory McDaniel, responding to countless medical emergencies is all in a day’s work.

Yet outside their “office,” as they call it, Harvey and McDaniel are both family men living oddly parallel lives. They reside approximately 100 yards away from one another; they’re both married with three young daughters — all under the age of 10 — who go to school together, play together, and await their fathers’ return together. And it’s these girls that inspired Harvey and McDaniel to launch a battalion-wide school supply drive.

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Engineer Darin Laier


In October 2015, Engineer Darin Laier, who at the time was an LAFD firefighter, was on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii, with his wife and four-year-old triplets. Laier and his family were enjoying an afternoon at Queen’s Bath, an area on the north side of the island. While the spot is advertised to tourists as a calm swimming hole, in the winter months it is notorious for treacherous waves.

As Laier and his family were making their way back from the beach, they spotted a group of three highschool-aged teenagers taking photos on a cluster of rocks. Preoccupied with their cameras, the three failed to realize that with each crash against the rocks, the waves were growing stronger and more threatening. Suddenly, a rogue wave surged against them, engulfing them entirely. While two of the teens were lucky enough to be pushed back against the rock wall behind them, the third, a girl, slipped out of sight, sucked deep into a cavernous pool of aerated water approximately 35 feet below the rocks.

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Firefighter Reuben Chan


Back in his days at Mount San Antonio Junior College, Reuben Chan wanted to be an architect. But he loved working outside, and balked at the idea of being stuck behind a desk all day.

One afternoon on campus, he came across a booth with information about the fire service. He signed up for a few classes on the spot, eventually took them all, and over the next few years trained to become a firefighter. Since 2000, he has served as a sworn member of the Los Angeles Fire Department, working as a firefighter at Fire Station 85 in Harbor City and Station 64 in Watts, and a peer training instructor at Drill Tower 40.

What sets Chan apart from the length of his service, however, is his clear and purposeful dedication to mentoring, teaching, and inspiring other firefighters — those who serve already as well as those those who dream of doing so one day.

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Captain Eddie Marez

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.

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Inspector/Paramedic Gayle Sonoda

Gayle Sonoda

Inspector/Paramedic Gayle Sonoda’s path to the Los Angeles Fire Department was unique. While a student at Chapman University, she served as athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Heat, a charity-supporting football team made up of LAFD firefighters and paramedics. In time, her trainees urged her to join the Department herself, bringing her on ride-alongs and station visits.

Fast forward eight years, and Gayle has made a name for herself on the Department, having completed the paramedic program and been promoted to Fire Inspector at Fire Station 57. She is currently part of the team spearheading LAFD’s innovative Community Risk Reduction (CRR) unit, which aims to raise community awareness of risk reduction through the utilization of metrics, technology, and community partnerships.

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Captain Monica Hall

Monica Hall

As a seasoned soccer and handball player, Monica Hall was used to physical challenges and the benefits of team companionship. But it was her father, a firefighter with the city of Torrance, who first urged her to consider a career in fire service. His suggestion decades ago prompted his daughter’s 23-year (and counting) career with the LADF, where she is currently a Captain and the Drill Master at Drill Tower 40 in San Pedro.

One of two LAFD training centers, Tower 40 reopened in January of 2015 following a five-year hiatus caused by a lack of city funding. Ever since Tower 40 reopened, Captain Hall and her teaching team have been determined to make up for lost time.

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Firefighter/Paramedic Aaron Guggenheim

Aaron Guggenheim

All this life, Firefighter/Paramedic Aaron Guggenheim has had a passion for the healthcare field. Before joining the Los Angeles Fire Department ten years ago, he worked as a certified paramedic in hospitals and clinics. His decision to join the LAFD stemmed from his desire for a “fun and rewarding career, a good team environment, and the ability to help people.”

Currently, Aaron is part of a two-person team—a paramedic and a nurse practitioner—assigned to the LAFD’s Nurse Practitioner Response Unit (NPRU). This specially designed rig, equipped with medically advanced technology, is the first of its kind to hit the streets of Los Angeles. Aaron and his partner, civilian Nurse Practitioner Terrance Ito, bridge the gap between doctor and patient with the ability to provide in-home care for patients in noncritical conditions.

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