In May 2020, several Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) firefighters were injured while battling an explosion and fire in a one-story commercial building in a downtown LA fire. They were all released from the hospital by the end of July, and those who were treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center recently gathered to thank the medical team that treated them.
The reunion took place on Aug. 19. Some firefighters were still bandaged and three were in wheelchairs. But they were grateful to be recovering thanks to the efforts of the burn center.
“It’s always nice to know that you’re gonna get the support you need if something happens,” noted firefighter Scott Barkley. “You get burned and get the care you get here, it gives you the confidence that if the next time something tragic happens, you’re not off on your own.”
The medical professionals remained modest. “We thank you for the privilege of letting us take care of you,” said Dr. Peter Grossman of the burn center.
“You are all men of courage. And people who have courage, who go into a situation with fear but still follow through…what you people do every day is beyond heroic.”
But even the upbeat mood of the reunion could not totally blot out memories of their traumatic firefight.
“One of the worst things you hear at an incident is the call for ‘Mayday.’ And it occurred that day,” said LA firefighter union chief Freddie Escobar.
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas agreed.
“It’s a phone call you never want to get. When you’re told there’s a big fire downtown, and that 11 firefighters have been burned and we don’t know how bad,” Terrazas said.
But, if able, they will all willingly go back to work.
“You guys are here for a bigger calling,” Escobar said. “And I look forward to seeing what that’s going to be.”
Also attending the reunion were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember John Lee (12th District) and Councilmember Monica Rodriguez (7th District).