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February 2018 Firefighters of the Month: Ellery Beltran and Matthew Davis

With a passion for helping people, firefighter Ellery Beltran has served with the LAFD for the past 10 years. Born in Inglewood and raised in Long Beach, he became interested in firefighting during a career day event at his high school. He remembers that fire department spokesperson was very compelling and Beltran was hooked. He went on to attend Long Beach City and El Camino colleges taking courses in fire science and paramedic training, becoming a paramedic in 2006 prior to applying to the LAFD. He has served his entire career as a paramedic at Fire Station 1 with fellow firefighter/paramedic Matthew Davis.

Firefighter Matthew Davis hails from Utah and had a slightly different path before joining the LAFD. He was inspired and mentored by his high school football coach, a former firefighter. Following his advice, Davis received his BA in business administration and worked a variety of jobs before joining a reserve unit as a firefighter and EMT in Mesquite, Nevada. After serving one year in Las Vegas, he was hired by the LAFD in 2006 and has worked at FS 1 for the past eight years.

With 85% of the more than 1,400 daily calls to the LAFD being medically related, the manual skills for saving a life are just one aspect of the job. Beltran and Davis constantly exceed the medical requisites. Because of his willingness to go beyond what is necessary, Beltran readily remembers a teenage girl and her mother involved in a car accident due to the mother’s intoxication. By gaining the girl’s trust, Beltran discovered they were homeless; that the 15 year old girl had not been in school for more than a year and that her mother had been sex-trafficking her to survive. With the girl’s approval, Beltran was able to get her into child protective custody once they arrived at the hospital, saving her twice that day. Davis remembers a first run of the day call from six years ago that a baby was having trouble breathing. Just as he arrived, the baby’s heart stopped. He was able to revive the infant on the way to the ER and with excellent and flawless teamwork, the baby survived. He still receives yearly updates of the boy who is thriving.

Together, on January 10, 2018, Davis and Beltran assisted in rescuing a potential suicide victim who was poised to jump from the overpass bridge at Grand Avenue in downtown LA. The LAPD were on the scene and had appeared to reason with the man who had climbed back over the railing of the bridge. Just when he appeared to cooperate, the man bolted and ran back to the railing. Beltran leapt into action and both he and Davis were able to subdue the potential jumper until the LAPD could restraint him on a gurney, a difficult task due to the mind-altering substance abuse the jumper was on. According to both men – “We were just doing our job.”

We salute both firefighters this month for doing their jobs with excellence, commitment and passion, saving lives every day.


January 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Captain Timothy Ramirez

When firefighting is the family business, courage and heroism flood the family genes. Witnessing the bravery and honor of his father and uncle, both of whom were firefighters, Captain Timothy Ramirez knew he wanted to become one too as early as his junior year in high school. However, Ramirez worried about passing the physical exam to become a firefighter because of his need to wear glasses. Always a planner, Ramirez first earned two associate degrees, one for business and the other for fire technology, at Santa Ana Junior college before attending Cal State Fullerton, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. While his backup plan was suitable, his first passion was to fight fires, so he opted for eye surgery, a much riskier proposition at a time before lasers. His surgery was a success and his journey in fire service began as the fifth member of eight firefighters in his immediate family. In 1994, Ramirez served with the Upland Fire Department for one year before being hired by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Reflecting upon his career, Captain Ramirez confides that the dangers of firefighting are worthwhile when compared to the personal satisfaction from making a bona fide impact on people and their communities each and every day. When asked for stories that capture what he believes to be the essence of firefighting, the humble Captain repeatedly doesn’t share a story of personal success or his own heroism, but rather a proud account of his platoon members taking ‘fire licking’ to the face in order to pull a man from a flipped, burning vehicle and resuscitating him back to life. The Captain’s self-effacing nature at his rank proves his character is second to none as a serviceman and, more importantly, as a human being.

What stands out most about Captain Ramirez is his relentless commitment to family. Whether it is following in his father’s footsteps to become a firefighter, his unconditional love for his two young daughters or dedication to his platoon, which he aptly considers his family, Captain Ramirez is undoubtedly devoted to those he loves.  After twenty-three years, he says it is slightly easier to handle the horrific situations he sees on a daily basis, but as a father, Ramirez says calls involving children tend to stay with him for awhile.

Captain Ramirez, who is currently Station Commander of Fire Station 35, B Platoon, was not chosen for Firefighter of the Month because of a singular act of heroism, but rather for his tremendous bravery and steadfast leadership. Characteristics that he has put to action daily in all of his assignments over the last 23 years, which include serving as Captain II at the In-Service Training Section’s Program Development and Delivery Unit and supervisor of his platoon for their twenty-four hour shifts. Prior, he served as a Captain I at the Recruit Training Section’s Drill Tower 40.

Through hardship, doubt and fatherhood, the superlative Captain is the true epitome of a dedicated serviceman.

LAFD To Deploy Drones To Assess Skirball, Creek Fire Damage, Hot Spots

CBS News

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For the first time, the Los Angeles Fire Department is deploying drones to help out in the battle against two wildfires threatening homes in the city.

LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said the drones would be used “for the first time ever,” primarily to conduct property assessment in Creek and Skirball burn areas.

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Firefighter Bryce Gutierrez

Bryce Gutierrez

On January 16, 2017, Task Force 33 responded to a structure fire at a bungalow in South Central Los Angeles. Though TF33 had received no initial reports of people trapped in the house, Firefighter Bryce Gutierrez, while conducting forcible entry onto the property, heard screams coming from inside. At that moment, the captain in charge confirmed that four children, ages two, three, five, and seven, were still in the house.

Locked security gates blocked the front entrance, so Gutierrez circled the property and found a rear-bedroom window—the only point of entry not yet consumed by flames.

Quickly he hoisted himself through the window into complete darkness, with thick smoke and zero visibility. Hearing muffled noises in the distance, he called out, but received no response. He then dropped to the ground and, crawling on all fours, began to search for the children.

Amidst the smoke and flames, he found each child, one at a time. Each one had gone unconscious, and as he came across each limp figure, Gutierrez, not knowing whether they were dead or alive, carried them quickly back to the window, passing each body to a waiting firefighter on the other side. He completed these motions until all four children were rescued.

The four children are alive today because of the courageous actions taken by Firefighter Gutierrez. His exceptional service earned him one of the LAFD’s highest honors, the Medal of Merit.

Firefighter/Paramedic David Danielson


            In 2010, Firefighter/ Paramedic David Danielson, pictured second from the left, nominated the LAFD for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. In 2013, Danielson escorted LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas, pictured on the far right, to the pentagon to meet then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and accept the award.


On the night of Sunday, October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire onto a crowd of thousands from his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. As chaos commenced and terrified concertgoers fled the scene, first responders ran in the opposite direction, into the heart of the danger.

In instances of disaster, whether natural or man-made, there is one group of people on which we can always rely. During fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and now active shootings, our community can rest assured that help is on the way.

In the City of Los Angeles, our comfort lies in the certainty that the Los Angeles Fire Department is preparing for every catastrophe. In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the LAFD skillfully manage historic fires at home and record-breaking hurricanes abroad. What many may not know is that the LAFD is also training for active shooter incidents, through the Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) unit.

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Firefighter/Paramedic Jennifer Wilcox


Given her passion for the Los Angeles Fire Department, one would think Firefighter/Paramedic Jennifer Wilcox always wanted a career in the fire service. A thirteen-year veteran of the LAFD, Jen is one of the department’s greatest ambassadors. She has been involved with recruitment since joining the job – hosting training seminars, working recruitment events, conducting military outreach, and spearheading a mentorship program for new female recruits. But Jen’s enthusiasm for the fire service actually sparked from her love of medicine.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Jen discovered her interest in the medical field during high school. As a teen, Jen participated in a high school program that allowed her to visit hospitals and shadow their employees. From them on, she knew she wanted to become a paramedic. In fact, it was the LAFD that put Jen through paramedic school.

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Dr. Kristen Wheldon

Dr. Wheldon 2

In the past year, the Los Angeles Fire Department has hired over 250 new firefighters, and promoted close to 150 officers. This influx of new personnel is untrained in the topics of behavioral health, and unable to provide competent peer support services to fellow LAFD members. What’s more, the LAFD Behavioral Health Program, which is HIPPA compliant, currently consists of one fire psychologist to support over 3600 sworn and civilian members. As a result, LAFD members – the individuals we depend on to keep us safe – are at risk for behavioral health issues.

One individual, Dr. Kristen Wheldon, is doing everything she can to care for the first responders who care for us. Hired in 2016, Dr. Wheldon joined the LAFD with a wide array of professional experience – including the study of combat veterans and work with the inmate-patient population at the California Department of Corrections – that has proved to be a valuable asset to the Behavioral Health Program.

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Engine 8136


For Southern California, brush fires are no longer limited to just one season. Instead, these wildland fires rage year-round. Though SoCal residents must take the necessary precautions (instructions can be found here), there is no need to fret. Your Los Angeles Fire Department is prepared for this climate change.

In December 2015, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) granted the LAFD five Type III Wildland Fire Engines. Specifically designed to combat wildfires, these 4×4 off-road capable fire engines are used as front-line and mutual-aid resources against brush fires throughout the state. Today these engines are strategically housed at LAFD stations in Los Feliz and the San Fernando Valley. Together, they form what is referred to as a “strike team.”

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Captain Dustin Clark

Battalion 8 Edited

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.

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Firefighter / Paramedic Geoffrey Balchowsky

4EC89FC1-BA25-4D20-81FE-13A93CFD25C8The incident that inspired Geoffrey Balchowsky to become a firefighter for the Los Angeles Fire Department occurred one sunny summer afternoon in 1989, while he was working as a pool lifeguard in Southern California.

From high on his perch that day, Balchowsky noticed a commotion in the water, and saw a man struggling to stay afloat. Without a thought, he dived in, approached the man, and brought him to safety. Back on land, however, Balchowsky found his work had just begun: The victim had a seizure, and the young lifeguard had to administer CPR to save his life.

Today, almost 30 years later, Balchowsky has been a firefighter for 25 years and a member of the LAFD for 20.

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