LAKEWOOD, CA — From the wildfire to emergencies and to the homeless crisis, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is busier than usual.
As part of an ethnic media services fellowship, we suited up and got a first-hand look at the daily lives of firefighters.
With some 50 pounds of gear and this axe, we hacked the day away with Captain David Dantic at the Lakewood fire station.
Inspired by his mom a nurse, Dantic started out as a paramedic 12 years ago, and has risen to be one of the few Filipino American captains in the department.
“I can be first hand medical, I got interested into it I didn’t like getting trapped in an emergency room for 12 hours, I get to hang out I get to come to work with my friends, every day just the camaraderie of being out with these guys everyday being there for people’s needs and just responding making an impact on people’s lives is a big thing for me.”
Dantic has had plenty of action, he recently recovered from injuries sustained battling a brush fire.
As this squad prepares for the next blaze, they’re also on the lookout for other crisis — from major catastrophes, to bringing aid to other regions, to small medical emergencies, like this quick response to a medical emergency of a transient at a nearby strip mall.
“Between 2008-2015, there’s been a 50% increase in emergency medical calls we’re getting that many more medical calls, but we’re running with the same amount of equipment and same amount of personnel. We want to have the initiative if we can have squads at each station so someone can be there in 3 minutes, in 4 minutes as soon as possible.”
As more calls come in and both natural and manmade fire threats increase, firefighters are battling for more funding.
For the March 3rd elections, a 6-cent parcel tax will be on the ballot in Los Angeles County.
The proposition looks to generate funds for more personal and equipment upgrades.
“It’s gonna help us get more progressive and get more money to get better equipment. And with the better equipment we have, the better response we have, and the more capable we are to respond to situations of life safety.”
Fire officials say it’s the first time the department has made funding demands in 23 years.
The proposed tax would generate some $134 million annually.
But for hard-working fighters like Dantic, it’s a lifeline for those who save lives everyday.