Firefighter of the Month


March 2019 Firefighter of the Month: Captain Amy Bastman

LAFD Metropolitan Fire Communications Dispatch Center, Downtown Los Angeles

Imagine being the voice of the largest fire department on the west coast each time you come to work. For two years Amy Bastman served in this capacity in her role as a Public Service Officer (PSO).

“I learned more about this department than I ever would have because of this position,” Bastman said. “Having the chance to share all the different things we do each day reminds me that I get to work for the best, the LAFD.”

Bastman is one of three PSO’s based at the department’s 911 call dispatch center. Some of her duties include answering public phone calls, serving as a spokesperson during incidents, crafting safety messages and managing the LAFD’s ever growing social media presence.

“The PSO position is critical to telling the LAFD’s story on all platforms,” Bastman said. “I am able to see people’s reactions to our work from across the globe in real time.”

Bastman’s time as a PSO occurred during one of the most challenging fire seasons in recent history. In December of 2017 she reported on the LAFD’s efforts in simultaneously battling the Creek and Skirball wildfires. She gave dozens of live interviews and provided information on social media. Bastman also assisted in the creation and distribution of incident maps for both fires viewed approximately 4 million times. She would later be awarded a Notice of Commendation by the LAFD for her exceptional efforts during this time.

Besides her public relations skills, Bastman is a certified paramedic, urban search and rescue technician and hazardous materials specialist. In her 11-year career with the LAFD, she has served out of fire stations across the city and been part of responses for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Outside her LAFD work, Bastman is a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation mentor who provides guidance for parents whose child has recently been diagnosed with the disease. She enjoys playing on the LAFD’s ice hockey team, outdoor activities and spending time with her wife and three children.

The LAFD Foundation congratulates Captain Bastman on her promotion to the rank of Captain I and wishes her well at her new assignment at Fire Station 52.

February 2019 Firefighter of the Month: Pilot David Nordquist

Air Operations Unit – Fire Station 114, Van Nuys Airport

Pilot David Nordquist has always loved aviation. He was 8 years old when he went on his first flight at the Van Nuys Airport. Little did Nordquist know that years later he would be saving lives by flying LAFD helicopters out of the same airport.

“I was flying airplanes before and after joining the department in my spare time, but never thought I would connect the two,” Nordquist said. “When I was approached about joining Air Operations, I learned this is the ultimate multi-tasking job because you’re a firefighter and pilot at the same time.”

Nordquist had already served as a firefighter and engineer for a combined 23 years when he joined the Air Operations unit in 2004. As a trainee, he worked as a crew chief, hoist operator, safety member and rescuer before becoming a pilot.

The Air Operations unit responds to situations like brush fires, hoist rescues and can be used as an air ambulance. Other scenarios Nordquist has personally flown include the transportation of a SWAT team to Big Bear, airlifting someone off Catalina Island and rescuing large animals. Of all these experiences, a rescue made during last year’s Woolsey Fire will always stand out in his mind.

“We had just made a water drop when the call came in that some folks on Castro Peak were trapped,” Nordquist said. “We were getting low on fuel but knew we were the only way those people were getting out of there.”

After Nordquist skillfully landed the helicopter on the rugged hilltop, fellow Pilot Joel Smith jumped out and led the three individuals and their two dogs to the aircraft. As Nordquist lifted the helicopter back into the air with everyone safely aboard, he was able to see that the flames had only been a single hilltop away. For their heroic actions, both Nordquist and Smith received a Certificate of Recognition in January 2019 from the LA City Council.

Nordquist has been a member of the LAFD for a total of 38 years and will be retiring this spring with more than 3,200 flight hours. He enjoys hiking, traveling, building model airplanes and spending time with his wife and children.


January 2019 Firefighter of the Month: Captain I Thomas Henzgen

Urban Search & Rescue 88 – Sherman Oaks

Have you ever heard of the fire department term, “first in?” This phrase refers to a geographical area that a specific fire station will respond to incidents first because they are the closest resource. For Captain I Thomas Henzgen and the LAFD’s Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) team, the entire City of Los Angeles is their “first in.”

“We are dispatched to every technical rescue, physical rescue and large structure fire no matter where it’s located,” Henzgen said. “At a moment’s notice we’re ready to respond and solve a difficult puzzle to help rescue someone…it’s an exciting challenge.”

Henzgen serves as one of the captains on US&R 88, a specially designed apparatus tailored to the US&R team’s needs based out of Fire Station 88. He oversees US&R responses to situations such as: confined space, cliff, tower crane, storm drain, river, collapsed structure, mudslide, collapsed trench, flooding and many other technical rescue incidents.

“The things we respond to require a lot of thought about how best to approach them,” Henzgen said. “A collapsed structure, for example, might need shoring to support it before, during and after the actual rescue. Every situation is unique.”

Henzgen’s technical rescue knowledge stems from more than 20 years of professional experience including his tenure with the LAFD as well as his time as a structural engineer and general contractor. His public service interest began with a ski patrol and includes time with mountain rescue and law enforcement agencies. Henzgen’s path to join the LAFD took more than nine years and became a reality in September of 1998.

Since that first day he put on an LAFD badge Henzgen has explored other areas in the department. He is currently the coordinator of the LAFD’s Swift Water Rescue team and is a State Fire Training Certified Instructor in various US&R disciplines. He has also been deployed to aid the recovery efforts across the nation following six different hurricanes.

“No matter where I go, the best reward is just offering assistance in a time of need,” Henzgen said. “Having that opportunity to go help, I don’t need anything more than that.”


December 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Firefighter Elvis Hernandez

Fire Station 96 – Chatsworth

As Firefighter Elvis Hernandez put on his gear and climbed into Engine 96 on the afternoon of November 8, little did he know he would be one of the first to arrive on the scene of the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County’s history – the Woolsey Fire.

“When we stepped out of the engine we were slammed with 30 mph wind gusts,” Hernandez said. “Flames were everywhere. Combined with the wind, we knew this fire was going to be big.”

Hernandez and his crew responded to the fire at Susana Field Laboratory site, more commonly known as “Rocketdyne,” from Chatsworth’s Fire Station (FS) 96. They quickly extended more than 800 feet of hose line through the rocky hills and brush to combat the fire as it was driven west by the wind. Equipment provided by other agencies throughout the day allowed the hose line to ultimately extend to 1,600 feet.

“We were on the fire for 12 hours before we finally headed home,” Hernandez said. “Once we got back, we started getting things ready for the next shift in case they got called back out…and they did.”

Over the next two days Hernandez could see the towering column of smoke in the distance as he worked other duties at FS 96. He recalls how much it meant when members of the community stopped by the station to donate food and other supplies to say thank you. Later Hernandez was on his way to the Rocky Peak Fire that quickly closed the 118 freeway and threatened homes in Simi Valley. Upon their arrival, he and his crew quickly engaged in structure protection of the houses closest to the fire.

“There was so much smoke coming down the hills, there was a time I couldn’t see people in front of me,” Hernandez said. “We laid our hoses out and started moving backyard furniture in case the fire got close.”

Helicopters from the LAFD and other agencies managed to halt the flames about 200 feet away from the homes. While the bulk of the fire was stopped, Hernandez and his crew stayed vigilant and doused hotspots throughout the afternoon.

From fighting brush fires, responding to medical calls or helping the community in other ways, Hernandez has always had a passion to serve as a first responder. He was inspired to join the fire service after watching firefighter/paramedics save his little brother who had accidentally cut his forehead open 16 years ago.

October 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Captain Michael “Mike” Flynn

Fire Communications & Dispatch Section – Metro Fire Communications (Downtown Los Angeles)

What was your first interaction with the fire department as a kid? For some it was at a local parade or during fire service day at school. For Captain Michael “Mike” Flynn, it was calling 911 during a family member’s heart attack and watching paramedics from the Los Angeles Fire Department respond in his family’s time of need.

“The feeling of not knowing what to do in that situation and then having people come in who did is what really drove me to join the LAFD,” Flynn said.

Assigned to the LAFD’s Fire Communications & Dispatch Section, Flynn is in charge of the installation, deployment and training of new digital communications technology such as radios, mobile broadband devices and live streaming equipment. His personal interest in communications was sparked when he created an app that provides the LAFD information for fire station locations, radio frequencies, hospital information, maps and other resources. Besides giving members the ability to access these resources outside standard cell coverage areas, it also provides one central location to find everything.

“My goal for creating the app was to build a ‘one-stop shop’ that our members could find anything in three clicks,” Flynn said. “By increasing their efficiency, I’ve increased their safety while working. That’s the best reward for me.”

Besides his duties with communications and dispatch, Flynn, a 15-year veteran, has also explored other areas of the department. Since 2012 he has served as a member of the LAFD’s Swift Water Rescue team. As part of this team, Flynn has worked with the LAFD Foundation to obtain new, life-saving equipment including eye and ear protective gear as well as crossline reach devices. These devices had previously been out of production, but Flynn’s efforts led the manufacturer to reproduce them for the department. This equipment can now be found on all the LAFD’s Urban Search & Rescue apparatus.

When not surrounded by digital screens or riding turbulent waters to help save lives, Flynn enjoys surfing and traveling with his wife and two daughters.

September 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Engineer Jeffery “Jeff” Braff

Fire Station 112 (San Pedro)

Home to Fire Boat No. 2, one of the LAFD’s most powerful apparatus, Fire Station 112 in San Pedro hosts annual visits from local, national and foreign dignitaries. Knowing that the visibility of this station was a reflection of the LAFD, Engineer Jeff Braff took it upon himself to lead the redevelopment of FS 112’s front landscape during his spare time at the station.

“I’ve always tried to treat every station I’ve worked at like it’s my second home,” Braff said. “I’d just re-landscaped my own home and thought with a little work, we could really showcase this station in the right way.”

Braff rallied the support of his crew and lead the way by pulling out water-thirsty plants, re-soiling the grounds and researching new, drought-resistant plants to use. When the time came to purchase new plants, he purchased some with his own funds. He is now designing a drip-system to water each plant directly that will help prevent the water runoff that normal sprinkler systems allow.

This project has been one of the highlights of Braff’s time at FS 112 where he has spent the last three of his 25 years with the LAFD. Graduating from Drill Tower 89 (North Hollywood), he began his career as a firefighter and worked at 10 different stations throughout Los Angeles. During this time he secured his paramedic license and promoted to Engineer before landing at FS 112 in March of 2015. Operating as a dual land/sea response fire station, Braff has the unique opportunity to serve as the Engineer on both the fire engine and Fire Boat No. 2, depending on the rotation.

“As an engineer on the fire engine I’m the one responsible for the maintenance, operation of the pumps and getting the crew to and from an incident safely,” Braff said. “On the fire boat my job is basically the same minus driving to the incident; we have a pilot who takes us out and back.”

When not working on Fire Boat No. 2, FS 112’s fire engine or the front landscape, Braff enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. Both his son and daughter aspire to become members of the LAFD just like their father.

August 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Firefighter Paul Wingate

Crew 3

How does a person know they want to be a firefighter when they grow up? Some say they know at an early age. For others, fate is believed to play a role in their calling. Firefighter Paul Wingate feels it was the latter for him that led to his current position as the Foreman for Crew 3 – the Los Angeles Fire Department’s (LAFD) Volunteer Type II Handcrew.

“This is hands down the best job on the fire department,” Wingate said. “It had to have been destiny that I was given the chance to be in this role with Crew 3. I don’t know how else to explain it.”

Wingate grew up in Fire Station (FS) 66’s district of Southwest LA / Hyde Park. After moving to Santa Clarita with his family when he was 17-years-old, he heard about the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s cadet program and quickly realized being a firefighter was what he wanted to do for a career. On one particular ride-along Wingate responded to a motorhome fire that spread to nearby brush. While assisting his crew, he spotted a green fire engine arrive nearby whose crew began working to contain the fire in the brush. Inquiring who the firefighters in the green engine were, he learned about the U.S. Forest Service’s wildland firefighters.

From that day forward wildland firefighting was engrained in Wingate’s mind. He joined the U.S. Forest Service’s apprentice wildland firefighter program in 1993 and soon after became a hotshot. Starting his career in the Los Padres National Forest’s Monterrey District, he went on to work as a permanent member for the Angeles National Forest from 1994-1999. It was during his time with the Angeles National Forest that Wingate applied to join the LAFD.

“I made a commitment to myself that I was going to pass the LAFD’s entrance exam no matter how long it took,” Wingate said. “I wanted to pass it just to prove to myself that I could, and I did just that.”

Conditionally accepted to the department in 1999,Wingate continued to battle fires across the country with his Forest Service crew. As different steps in the hiring process required him to be present, Wingate attributes fate as the reason he always made it back to complete the next step. In 2000 he proudly put on an LAFD uniform and served at four different stations before completing eight years at FS 94, located in the Crenshaw area.

Besides his regular duties at FS 94 Wingate also served as the advisor for the cadet post located at the station. After discovering how much he enjoyed training young men and women interested in fire service, his wildland firefighting roots lead him to become an instructor for Crew 3. Members of Crew 3 receive wildland classes and hands-on training to support LAFD operations in the areas of: fire prevention (clearing firebreaks, trails and fire roads), assisting with fire suppression at brushfire incidents, and other activities. As Wingate enjoyed his time working with Crew 3 more and more, fate played its final role in Wingate’s story. In 2014 he accepted the role as Crew 3’s Foreman and has since lead the Crew in wildland training and in support of LAFD operations throughout the city.Members of Crew 3 are seen in action working to clear brush and other foliage during the Griffith Park Fire on July 10, 2018. Photo by: Rick McClure.

“I let everyone know at the start that I run this crew like a Type II Handcrew, who are paid,” Wingate said. “When the command staff at a fire see us arrive and they say, ‘There’s Crew 3, they’re here to work,’ that’s when it all pays off.”

Wingate has been with the LAFD for a total of 18 years, including serving as Crew 3’s Foreman for the past four years. He has lead the Crew at notable brush fires like last year’s La Tuna and Creek Fires, and most recently the Griffith Park Fire that sparked on July 10, 2018. When not leading Crew 3 at incidents, training or other activities, he enjoys spending time with his wife, 14-year-old daughter, and 11-year-old son. His main hobby is enjoying his children’s hobbies with them.


July 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Captain Cody Weireter

Fire Station 46 – Coliseum Area

It’s not often you grow up seeing your father on the news representing one of the largest fire departments in the country. This was part of Captain I Cody Weireter’s childhood, as he watched his father serve as a Public Information Officer (PIO) in the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). Little did Capt. Weireter know that over 20 years later, he would be on the news representing the LAFD as a PIO now it is his sons who are at home watching him on TV.

“While serving as the lead PIO during the Skirball Fire last year, I was in an interview that my two boys saw while home with my wife,” Capt. Weireter said. “My four-year-old started yelling ‘daddy’s on TV’ and my one-year-old just couldn’t believe it.“

Born and raised in Van Nuys, Calif., Capt. Weireter grew up in a family with first responders in its blood. Besides his father being an LAFD firefighter, his mother served as a Los Angeles Police Department officer. Realizing his own calling to become involved with public safety at the age of 14, he became an Explorer (now called Cadets) at Post 100. After spending almost every weekend doing ride-alongs and learning more about the fire department, Capt. Weireter knew being a firefighter was his calling. McCormick Ambulance hired him in 2005 as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) where he worked for four years before being accepted into the LAFD. In 2009, Capt. Weireter proudly put on an LAFD uniform following his graduation from Drill Tower 40 (Terminal Island).

“Becoming a firefighter for this department was my goal from the beginning,” Capt. Weireter said. “To have my parents, with their backgrounds, there to see me there wearing my own badge, it’s hard to describe what that meant.”

 ABOVE (1): With a radio in hand,  a young Capt. Weireter rides through a community parade with his father in the LAFD bandwagon. 

After working at fire stations throughout downtown Los Angeles and one in Canoga Park, Capt. Weireter became a staff assistant to the Chief of Battalion 10, which oversees a section of the San Fernando Valley. During this time he became interested in using his public speaking skills for the department as a PIO and registered for a pair of classes, one offered by the Ventura County Fire Department and another by the LAFD. Following his passage of these classes, he became a PIO for the department in 2014. Representing Battalion 10 at small events, Capt. Weireter soon found himself at much larger incidents like a major water-main break on the UCLA campus, the Wharf Fire in San Pedro, and serving as a field PIO during the LA Marathon.

After serving as a staff assistant for Battalion 10 for four years, Capt. Weireter took the captain’s test and was promoted to Captain I in July of 2017. He is currently assigned to Fire Station 46 with a team he describes a a “great crew.” He attributes his success as a captain this past year to them.

“I couldn’t wait to be the one who set the tone for the day for a crew like this,” Capt. Weireter said “Being able to create an environment here at the station feel that allows everyone to feel comfortable, enjoy what they do and go home safe at the end of the day is a mission accomplished for me.”

When not working at Station 46 or in the role of a PIO, Capt. Weireter enjoys spending time with his family and often volunteers to bring the LAFD bandwagon, an original 1931-built Seagrave fire engine, out to community events with his father. This is a legacy he looks forward to continuing on with his family

ABOVE (2): Three generations of the Weireter family are seen as Capt. Weireter’s father, four-year-old son and the Captain himself pose in front of the LAFD bandwagon. Bringing this historic apparatus out to community events has truly become a family affair. 

June 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Firefighter John Goshorn

Fire Station 60 – North Hollywood

Every Tuesday night for the past 19 years Firefighter John Goshorn has sat at the same Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Cadet Program meeting. Beginning in 1999 as a shy 13-year-old who looked up to firefighters; today Goshorn is the one Cadets look up to as he strives to give back to the very program that helped him land his dream job – being an LAFD Firefighter.

“I know it sounds cliché, but I still look at my badge and ask myself if this is real or not,” Goshorn says, now 12 years on the job. “Becoming a firefighter for the LAFD was the equivalent of hitting the lottery for me.”

Born and raised in Sylmar, Calif., Goshorn became interested in the fire service at the age of 9 during a visit to the LA County Fair in 1994. Looking at the fire engines on display up close, he spotted a number of Explorers (now called Cadets) showing the public the details of the equipment and decided then he wanted to become one too. A few years later once he was old enough, Goshorn joined the Explorer program at LAFD Fire Station (FS) 100 (West Van Nuys / Lake Balboa) where for the next seven years he not only attended the four-hour-long, Tuesday night meetings, but also spent every weekend he could doing ride-alongs.

“After spending the whole weekend at the station, sometimes my Mom would have to pick me up Monday morning and take me home to change clothes for school,” Goshorn reflects. “That’s how into the fire department I was and it all paid off in the end.”

In 2003, Goshorn began working for American Medical Response (AMR) as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). After working at AMR for 2 ½ years, he was hired by the LAFD in 2006 and graduated from Drill Tower 40 later that year. As his childhood dream became a reality, Goshorn knew from the start he wanted to give back to the youth program that helped him achieve his goal. Following his two-year probation period in 2008, he returned to the Cadet Post at FS 100 as a volunteer Cadet Post Advisor to teach kids both basic firefighting principles and the LAFD’s core “SPIRIT” values.

Today, Goshorn continues to serve as a volunteer Cadet Post Advisor at Post 89 after assisting with the merger of Posts 100 and 89 into one at FS 89 (North Hollywood). Besides donating his time to the Cadet program, he also utilizes his passion to teach organizations such as the Oxnard Fire Academy, the California Fire Exploring Association and during his duties as a state-certified fire inspector. Outside of fire-related work, John and his wife recently welcomed a son to their family who’s now six months old.

“I take pride in having the kids at my Cadet Post work hard but also have fun doing it,” Goshorn says. “That’s the kind of work ethic I look forward to showing my son once he’s older.”

May 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Engineer Michael “Mike” Flores

Fire Station 80 – Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “All good things are circular,” Engineer Michael “Mike” Flores’ story is one that truly shows a full circle. A native Angeleno, Mike’s story with the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) started as a young boy when he saw members from Fire Station 16 race by his family’s house in El Sereno on their way to calls. “Yes, I really was one of those kids that would run to a window at the front of the house to see them go by,” Mike admits with a grin.

Wanting to join the LAFD in any way he could, with the future goal of becoming a firefighter, Mike became an Explorer at Fire Station 2 in 1987. Growing up with a father who was a diesel mechanic, it’s no surprise Mike also became passionate in this field after spending each summer at his father’s shop tinkering with parts. Two years after joining the Explorer program, his next step into the department was becoming a Student Worker in the LAFD’s Supply and Maintenance Division. This led to Mike serving in the division’s test pit where he worked with the division’s Engineer on all types of equipment in the LAFD’s fleet; both ensuring their safety and investigating changes to improve their services.

In September of 1998, Mike finally achieved his goal of becoming a firefighter when he successfully completed his training.  As he went on to work at Stations 94 and 6, he promoted to Engineer in December of 2003 and eventually got a call to return to the test pit as its Engineer – the uniformed position he had served under as a Student Worker some 14 years ago. During his time there, Mike became involved with apparatus specifications, which he is still passionately involved with today.

Moving from the test pit to Fire Stations 73, 104 and occasionally 51, Mike became interested in Station 80, located at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), when the Engineer he worked with as a Student Worker sparked his interest in becoming a certified Aircraft Rescue Firefighter (ARFF). “The learning curve for the ARFF stuff, that was my biggest challenge to coming over here,” Mike admits. “You basically train to work on a horizontal high-rise that can fly.”



He took on the challenge of becoming ARFF certified, and moved to Station 80 in 2016 when it received two more fire engines, bringing the fleet’s total to six. It should be noted, even before coming to Station 80, Mike was instrumental in the procurement of the six ARFF-tailored fire engines that he currently works on today (see photo above). Over the past two years at Station 80, Mike has taken on roles outside of his normal duties that include: updating of the ARFF manual, teaching driver-operator classes, serving on two National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) committees, and continuing to assist the shops where his story began.

Happily married and currently living in Chatsworth, Mike has been with the LAFD for 19 years and looks forward to continuing his service in the department as one of the very members he grew up watching race past his house in El Sereno.