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By mike rhodeS, coa Social direcTor phoToS By don frazeur


elcome to our second COA Retire- ment Dinner of 2012. The retire- ments seem to be accelerating in

all ranks, taking so much valuable experience right out the door of this great fire department. The March 22nd dinner at the “always classy” Taix French Restaurant brought together 57 ac- tive and retired members including Fire Chiefs’ Donald O. Manning, William Bamattre, Brian Cummings, and Fullerton Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe to do their part in honoring retirees’ Chris Kawai, John Martinez, and Craig Yoder for their notable years of service. We would like to congratulate Corey

Rose as the COA’s new president and extend our gratitude to John Miller for his invaluable commitment both as a board member and pres- ident.

Following a “buzzing” social hour,

Dave Frelinger led the flag salute and LAFD Chaplain Greg Gibson led the invocation. A moment of silence was given in honor of the late John Squire who will be missed and always be remembered as a “fireman’s fireman” and an LAFD icon to us all. Trying something new, prizes were

given out to several of our guests who topped our special categories. Raffle tickets are some- what boring and a challenge to read so we thought this method of prize giving would light some fires. So here we go! Denny Wil- lahan won “Always First On-Scene” (to Taix). Bob Franco grabbed the “Best Hair Award” and Richard Baker got the “I Came the Farthest” (Nashville Tennessee). Next was Tom Brennan for “Best Story Teller” (not really the actual title used by the M/C) and Ralph Ramirez won “World Traveler.” Corey Rose did a fabulous job as

Master of Ceremonies, adding a certain “roast flair” to the event. Laughter was in the room and I thought I even heard a couple pacemak- ers go off . . . But that could’ve been coming from the kitchen across the hall, not sure. I am sure that a couple retirees went “red lights and siren” to the boy’s room several times during the ceremonies (we keep track of that kind of stuff, you know with HIPPA in mind). Last but not least, Bill Bamattre showed up late to the dinner taking bullets from several attendees as he worked his way to an open seat in back of the room. Slightly blushed nearing his seat, Bill turned and fired, “I didn’t expect that my re- sponse time would be an issue!”

44 • June 2012 Christopher “Kiwi” Kawai began

Drill Tower 89 on February 27, 1977 and was assigned his rookie rotation at Fire Stations 14, 46, and 21. Chris was also assigned to Fire Sta- tions 22, 4, and 10 before promoting to Engi- neer on August 7, 1983. As an Engineer, Chris held assignments at Fire Stations 46 and 11. He also worked Special Duty assigned to Equip- ment Engineering. On March 16, 1986, Chris promoted

to Captain and was assigned to Fire Station 1. After a couple years, Chris transferred to OCD as a Floor Captain. Chris promoted to Captain II on June 24, 1990 as the TFC at Fire Station 26. He served 6 years there before serving his Special Duty at the Planning Section. On Feb- ruary 15, 1998, Chris promoted to Battalion Chief and was assigned to Battalion 3. He also worked Battalion 11 and then served a couple years back at Planning. Chris later went to Bat- talion 5 in Hollywood spending nearly 10 years there. In between all these assignments, Chris worked on a wide variety of projects for the Department. Chris retired with 35 years on the Department, 26 years as an Officer. John Ware presented Chris his hel-

met plaque followed by Rick Garcia present- ing Chris his COA retirement watch. Of course, nothing but high marks were given by each presenter, including stories about Kiwi’s high energy output which he exhibited throughout his career. Mario Rueda couldn’t help but men- tion that while in New York during 911, Kiwi brought a bunch of Red Bulls for the team. Bot- tom line, Chris is a hard act to follow. (What’s shak’in?)

John Martinez entered Drill Tower

89 on February 27, 1977 and was assigned to Fire Stations 29, 11, and 6 as his rookie rota- tion. As a firefighter, John was also assigned to Fire Stations 6, 20, 70, 34, and 26. He also served as a dispatcher at OCD from ’80 to ’83. On August 4, 1985, John promoted to Captain and was assigned to Fire Station 91 in Sylmar and also served at Recruit Training. John went to Fire Station 33 for a couple years before promoting to Captain II. His first assignment at Fire Station 1 lasted only 5 months when he was drafted to the FPB’s Haz-Mat Section. Af- ter two years, John transferred to Fire Station 20 then on to 11’s. On November 21, 1993, John pro-

moted to Battalion Chief and was assigned to Battalion 13 in South Los Angeles. John’s next assignment was Battalion 11 before spending a few months back at the FPB, Public Safety Section. John also worked Battalion 2 and then at the FPB, Technical Section. John worked the remainder of his career at OCD serving 10 ½ years there. John finished with 35 years on the Department including 26 years as an Officer. Mike Fulmis said a few words com-

mending John for his contributions to the De- partment and presented John with his helmet plaque. Tom Brennan proudly presented John his COA retirement watch. One active member got up and thought it would be funny to just let everyone know that ever since Tom Brennan retired, the OCD B/C office exhibit’s full heads of hair to date. Some laughed at that one. Also mentioned was John’s hobby as a collector of “coffee creamers.” Yes, you heard it right. Ac-

Battalion Chief Christopher Kawai Battalion Chief John Martinez

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