On January 16, 2024, the County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s (LACoFD) Peer Support Team was presented with a Partnership Award during the CAL FIRE’s 2023 Director’s Awards Program in Sacramento.
This recognition comes as a result of the team’s exceptional support provided to CAL FIRE members dealing with the loss of colleagues from the Broadway Incident in August 2023.
The Director’s Awards Program by CAL FIRE annually acknowledges the exemplary achievements of individuals and teams.
These accolades highlight contributions that play a pivotal role in advancing CAL FIRE’s mission to serve and protect the people, property, and resources of California.
The award celebrated the efforts of several LACoFD members for their contribution to the peer support initiative.
The individuals honored include Battalion Chief Chip Gamble, Battalion Chief Travis Wilson, Fire Captain Steve Blackburn, Fire Captain Scott Ross, Fire Captain Dan Trevizo and K9 Jackson, Fire Fighter Paramedic Justine Malloy, Retiree Pete Martinez, Retiree Ernie Ramirez, and Niki Stepanian, LFMT- a contracted mental health clinician.
Their dedication to supporting colleagues during times of loss underscores the importance of mental health and peer support within the firefighting community.
The recipients’ commitment to their fellow firefighters has made a substantial impact, demonstrating the value of solidarity and compassion in the face of adversity.
The Peer Support Team at LACoFD has set a benchmark for offering mental health support within the firefighting community.
Their work, especially in the aftermath of the Broadway Incident, highlights the critical need for such programs to help emergency responders cope with the psychological toll of their jobs.
Mental health support systems like the one developed by LACoFD are essential for maintaining the wellbeing of those who risk their lives to protect others.
By recognizing the efforts of the Peer Support Team, CAL FIRE underscores the importance of mental health initiatives in enhancing the resilience of firefighting personnel.
The recognition of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s Peer Support Team by CAL FIRE is a testament to the indispensable role of mental health support in the emergency services sector.
The award not only honors the individuals and their dedication to their colleagues but also brings to light the broader necessity for peer support mechanisms within high-stress professions.
As the demand for such services grows, the example set by the LACoFD’s Peer Support Team serves as a blueprint for other organizations striving to prioritize the mental health of their personnel.
This initiative exemplifies the evolving understanding within the firefighting community that taking care of one’s mental health is as crucial as physical readiness.
It is hoped that this recognition will encourage the development of similar support networks across the country, fostering an environment where firefighters feel supported both physically and emotionally.