The Long Beach Fire Department promoted its first female to fire engineer in its nearly 113-year history during its Badge Ceremony Friday.
“This is very overwhelming,” Karen Rindone said to the crowd. “I am very proud to be the first, but that’s not why I did it. I’m a motor head.”
With only five years with the Long Beach Fire Department, Rindone said she was honored to be given such responsibility.
The fire engineer is responsible for performing maintenance on and driving “Big Red,” the department’s fire trucks, to and from emergencies.
“It’s very difficult to put into words. It’s a very proud moment, very humbling and I’m very happy to do it,” she said. “We (women) need a presence in the department, but I think there are far more better women who would do a better job than I would, and I hope they promote so I can drive for a couple of them.”
Dennis Garrett, who has been with the department for 10 years, was also promoted to fire engineer.
“It’s special part, because the engineer is directly responsible for the safe arrival of the crew on scene,” he said. “Being the oldest of five, the big brother, I kind of get to be the big brother of the crew making sure everybody gets to and from safely.”
Garrett, an African-American, aspired to be a fireman as a boy and refused to let anything deter his dream.
“I didn’t see too many firemen who looked like me growing up,” he said. “But I came across this fine gentleman when I was in my 20s and he told me about the fire service which had always been a curiosity of mine and I lucked out. I met the right people and I was very fortunate to end up where I am today.”
Abraham Chira, who was promoted to Fire Boat Operator, credited his family for being the support he needed to be a successful firefighter.
“I’ve been humbled quite a bit in my career and when you get humbled you learn how to live,” he said. “I thank God for everything in my life, good and bad, because we learn from the bad and we cherish the good.” Fred Losey and Fred Barkis were also promoted to Fire Boat Operator.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department presented Capt. Jimmy Arvizu a certificate of recognition for his assistance with the memorial service for the two firefighters killed in the Station Fire in 2009.
The Fire Ambassador badge was presented to Bud Rowe for his years of service as a fire ambassador.
Seven veterans were promoted to battalion chief: Xavier Espino, Chris Albers, Chris Rowe, Mike DuRee, David Segura, Steve Raganold and Jim Rexwinkel.
Mitch Garrison was promoted to Marine Safety Officer.
Deputy Chief Mike Garcia, a 20-year firefighter with LBFD, helped with the presentations.
Story and photos by Contra Costa Times