Pacific Palisades realtor Michael Edlen contributed to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation this past year.
He received a letter from the foundation’s development director Tara Gurlides, who wrote: “I wanted to share the attached document that outlines how your contribution has helped the LAFD Foundation fulfill the critical needs for our frontline responders.
“So far in 2020, the LAFD Foundation has been able to raise enough funds to purchase gloves, hoods and gear bags for the LAFD. Unfortunately, there has been a delay in getting these items out into the field because of the pandemic. We will share more about these items in a future report. Please take pride in knowing that you made a difference.”
Edlen told Circling the News in a June 22 email, “I was flabbergasted! Tara had told me they were short quite a bit late in the year, regarding equipment for which no funds were available. But the magnitude is surprising, especially after those seasons where clearly a huge amount of favorable public opinion was expressed.
“I had thought I was only doing a very small drop of water in a large lake (probably a poor metaphor), but now see my $21K was almost a measurable percentage. I may shift from schools for a while to the LAFD Foundation!”
Although the City provides the basics for firefighters, money is short for some essentials and Edlen wanted to let people know about the foundation and how it supports firefighters.
According to Gurlides, the 2019 wildfire season was one of the most challenging in recent history. During October and November, the Saddleridge, Tick and Getty Fires scorched over 14,000 acres, disrupted and displaced entire communities and injured eight LAFD firefighters.
These items are needed by firefighters:
- Emergency FireShelters – These personal fire shelters are deployed when firefighters become overrun by flames. The fire shelters are light, compact and quickly deployed. They are designed to reflect radiant heat, protect against convective heat and trap breathable air within. An initial order of 540 fire shelters was provided in 2019, with more on the way for the 2020 fire season.
- Pop-UpTents – These tents replaced aging equipment, and provided much needed shade during the Getty, Saddleridge, and Tick Fires.
- HotShot Packs – LAFD stations serving wildland areas are bolstered by a small fleet of 4×4 off-road fire engines, provided by the State. But, equipping the rigs and outfitting their crews is a local responsibility and must include gear-hauling backpacks, capable of storing several days-worth of supplies and equipment.
- WildlandBrushTools – Clearing fire roads and creating natural barriers in anticipation of the fire season can save homes and lives. These light and durable hand tools are specially designed to help firefighters and ground crews cut through tree limbs, clear brush overgrowth and remove potential fuel sources.The LAFD Foundation outfitted five stations and LAFD’s volunteer crew with these tools.
According to Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas, mental health and cancer prevention are two of the top funding priorities.
- Extractors –Firefighters inherently risk exposure to carcinogens, making them 14% more likely to die of cancer-related illness. Commercial-grade washers were installed at five fire stations to remove carcinogens and other harmful particulates from dirty turnout gear.
- EarlyInjury Prevention Program – Many of the common injuries, such as strains, sprains and overuse trauma can be avoided with proper preventative steps. Grounded by the latest in kinesiology and certified athletic training, this program focuses on treating minor injuries, improving body mechanics, and educating members on wellness best practices.
- BehavioralHealth – First-responders experience trauma at a much higher rate than most occupations. Traumatic experiences lead to higher occurrences of PTSD among our firefighters, and this program provides therapy services and educational materials.
The Foundation also supports the “Adopt-a-Fire-Station Program” that supports firefighters in all 106 fire stations in Los Angeles. When everyday essential appliances break down at these stations, including washers and dryers, power and hand tools, treadmills, stationary bikes and exercise equipment, these items are currently not covered in the city’s budget.
To support firefighters through the foundation, contact Tara Gurlides at (310) 552-4139 or email Tara@supportLAFD.org.