Family members, fellow firefighters, city officials and community members gathered Saturday, October 11th, at the Westchester site where veteran Los Angeles Firefighter Brent Lovrien was killed to remember him as a man full of humor who spent his last moments protecting lives.
More than six months after Lovrien died in the line of duty, the Westchester community and Los Angeles Fire Department dedicated a bronze plaque, honoring his service to the community and recognizing his ultimate sacrifice. Fellow firefight- ers recalled how Lovrien, who was known to them as “Lovey,” was an outgoing person who took great pride in being a member of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD).
“He was known for his strong work ethic, outgoing personality and optimistic attitude,” LAFD Captain Steve Ruda said at the dedication ceremony. “He died doing the job that he loved.”
The plaque dedication was held the same day of the Los Angeles Firefighters Memorial Service in Hollywood, honoring the firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty throughout the department’s history.
The 35-year-old Lovrien was killed in an explosion March 26th as he was attempting to investigate the source of smoke in a locked electrical storage room at a building in the 8800 block of South Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester. Lovrien, a ten-year LAFD veteran who previously served three years as a federal firefighter, served on the “A” platoon at Station 95 near Century Boulevard in Westchester.
Another Station 95 firefighter, Engineer Anthony Guzman, 48, has recovered after suffering multiple fractures and facial trauma in the blast. Guzman was on hand at the plaque dedication to pay tribute to Lovrien, one day after he was finally able to return to work.
“There was a lot of happiness that I was able to get back to work, but also a lot of sorrow that we were missing one guy,” Guzman said of his first day back.
Guzman noted that one of the first things he did was return to the location of the explosion to check how the site was doing. He also acknowledged the generosity of the Westchester community, saying he has received hundreds of letters, many from strangers, thanking him and Lovrien for their service.
“It was so moving to receive letters from the Westchester community,” said Guzman, who added that he now feels fine.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who attended the dedication event, also referred to the appreciation of firefighters that is expressed by Westchester community members.
“The community continues to pour out not only love but an incredible amount of generosity toward Station 95,” Rosendahl said.
Rosendahl referred to Lovrien’s heroic efforts prior to the explosion as he brought a woman out of harm’s way. Celeste Zibelli, vice president of the Water and Power Community Credit Union, where the explosion occurred, said two Credit Union employees’ lives were saved by Lovrien’s and Guzman’s actions that day.
“He saved lives at the very last moment of his life,” Rosendahl said of Lovrien.
The councilman called the unveiling of the plaque memorial at the location where Lovrien died a “closure moment.” Rosendahl then pointed to a picture of Lovrien smiling and said that’s the image people need to remember of him.
“He was full of love — he was Lovey,” Rosendahl said.
Lovrien’s mother, Patricia, also recalled the lovable spirit of her son at the ceremony in his honor.
“He was an ‘I want to make you smile type of person’,” Patricia Lovrien said.
Visibly distraught when talking about the loss of her son, Patricia Lovrien said she has been able to cope with his death due to the support of many people over the last six months.
“The loss is unbearable but because of these people it’s made it easier to get through the day,” she said.
Among Lovrien’s other family members in attendance at the dedication were his father Glenn and his wife Sherry; brother Shannon; and his grandfather Glenn, who influenced Lovrien to become a firefighter.
In addition to the memorial plaque for Lovrien, Rosendahl said donations are being accepted for a renovation fund for Fire Station 95.
Firefighters who knew Lovrien say they are proud to have a bronze plaque dedicated in his honor. Apparatus Operator Craig Yamashiro, who was a good friend of Lovrien’s, said he had not visited the site of the explosion because it was too difficult, but he made sure to be there for the dedication service.
“It’s a great honor,” Yamashiro said. “He was a great man and he should be remembered in this way.”