Thousands of uniformed firefighters gathered for a memorial service in Dodger Stadium on Saturday to honor as heroes two firefighters killed in the massive wildfire burning in the Angeles National Forest. Fire Capt. Tedmund “Ted” Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones, 34, of Palmdale, “served with dedication, courage and, during their last alarm, with absolute bravery and selflessness,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Deputy John Tripp said at the service. The touching ceremony lasted a little over two hours, ending with eight firefighting helicopters thundering over the stadium, a fire captain playing taps on a trumpet in centerfield and the Pipes and Drums of California Professional Firefighters playing “Amazing Grace.” Hall and Quinones were killed on Aug. 30 when their truck slipped off a winding dirt road high in the Angeles National Forest. Officials believe the truck might have been overrun by flames from the wildfire, dubbed the Station fire, which has burned 250 square miles and has destroyed more than 80 dwellings. Now an estimated 81% contained, it is the largest fire in modern Los Angeles County history. Though the incident is still under investigation, officials believe that Hall and Quinones may have ordered dozens of people to seek shelter while they fought through flames to search for an escape route. “There are still acts that go above and beyond duty,” Vice President Joe Biden told the audience as Secret Service agents stood on the top steps of the dugouts and scanned the crowd. “Two men tell others to hunker down and race out to find a way out – it is above and beyond the call of duty. That’s real courage.” Fire crews came from as far away as New York City and Worcester, Mass., said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Frank Garrido. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also praised the firefighters’ courage, noting that most people feel a “primal instinct” to run from danger.“Their final moments were on duty, standing for us all.… They stayed and they did battle,” Schwarzenegger said. Biden met privately with each family before the service and then gave a 13-minute memorial speech in which he veered from his prepared remarks repeatedly, speaking in deeply personal terms about the loss of his wife and daughter in a 1972 traffic accident.“There is very little we can do today that is going to provide genuine solace,” Biden told the firefighters’ families. But noting the firefighting brotherhood that was in evidence at the ceremony, he promised them that eventually they would “draw strength from this, if not today, tomorrow, next week, next year.”“We all say things like, ‘We never forget.’ These guys mean it,” he said, gesturing to the firefighters in the crowd. “They will never forget – any time, any problem, under any circumstances, you will have a family bigger than your own to go to.”The stadium was silent as Biden descended into the visitors’ dugout after his speech. Fire officials could be seen patting him on the back in the dugout; Biden watched the rest of the ceremony there.Dodger Stadium had taken on a somber tone. Hundreds of red, yellow and green firetrucks cruised under two large American flags hanging from firefighters’ ladders and ringed the stadium. Flags lining the upper deck of the stadium were lowered to half-staff. A speaker’s platform had been set up over home plate, flanked by huge shocks of flowers and stands that were holding the firefighters’ helmets and boots.”We are blind to the fact that we are all from different agencies,” said U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Anthony Powers, who worked frequently with Hall. “We’re all here for the same reason – to support the families and because we all lost somebody…. It’s like losing a family member.”After the service, firefighters embraced and many lingered in their seats and watched a slide show of Hall and Quinones on thelarge screens that typically show highlights, scores and players’ statistics “Family is what this is,” Asst. Chief Gary Burden said on the way out. “These guys made the ultimate sacrifice and it touches every one of us to the core.”
Story by: LA Times
FIRE CAPTAIN TEDMUND D. HALL
Fire Captain Tedmund D. “Ted” Hall, 47, was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, August 30, 2009, during the Station Fire, when his emergency response vehicle went over the side and fell 800 feet into a steep canyon during fire suppression activities protecting Camp 16 in the City of Palmdale.Ted joined the Los Angeles County Fire Department on April 22, 1981, as a student worker. Like many young students seeking a career in the fire service, he supported the Department’s mission in this capacity before being accepted into the Department’s Fire Academy in 1983, graduating with fellow classmates of the 65th Recruit Class on September 10, 1983. Upon graduation, he joined the crew at Fire Station 122 in serving the City of Lakewood.In March 1984, Ted transferred to Fire Station 28 in the City of Whittier and, in October 1985, joined the crew of Fire Station 43 in the City of La Puente. In December 1987, he joined the Department’s Command and Control team of fire dispatchers until November 1988, when he was promoted to the rank of Fire Fighter Specialist. He served as an engineer for 12 years in a number of locations, including Fire Stations 149, 165, and 90, and also at Camp 2 in La Canada Flintridge and at Camp 11 in Acton.In January 2001, Ted was promoted to Fire Captain and served at Fire Stations 73, 11, and 33. His last assignment was Camp 16 in Palmdale, where he was assigned as Camp Superintendent in May 2001. Captain Ted Hall is survived by his wife, Katherine, sons Randall (21), and Steven (20), and parents, Roland Ray and Donna Marie Hall.
FIRE FIGHTER SPECIALIST ARNALDO “ARNIE” QUINONES
Fire Fighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones, 34, was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, August 30, 2009, during the Station Fire, when his emergency response vehicle went over the side and fell 800 feet into a steep canyon during fire suppression activities protecting the Camp 16 in the City of Palmdale. Arnaldo Quinones joined the Los Angeles County Fire Department on August 6, 1998, as a member of the Department’s call firefighter program. He was assigned to Fire Station 84 in Battalion 11, where he remained until November 2000, when he was accepted into the Department’s Fire Academy as a member of the 104th Recruit Class.Upon graduation in February 2001, Arnaldo became a Fire Fighter and was assigned to Fire Station 24 in the City of Palmdale. In August 2001, he transferred to Fire Station 153 in the City of Covina. In March 2002, he returned to Fire Station 24 and served there until November 2003, when he transferred to Fire Station 82 in the City of La Canada Flintridge.In December 2005, Arnaldo was promoted to the rank of Fire Fighter Specialist and joined the crew at Camp 16, which was his last assignment. Fire Fighter Specialist Arnaldo Quinones is survived by his wife, Loressa, who is expecting their first child in the next several weeks, and his mother, Sonia Quinones.