Recognized for his more than three decades of service with the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) as a fourth-generation firefighter, Capt. Steve Norris, a former station commander at Station No. 63 in Venice, has been named Firefighter of the Year.
The Los Angeles City Firefighters Association honored Norris as its Firefighter of the Year at the association’s 41st annual award luncheon Thursday, March 20th, in downtown Los Angeles.
Norris, who served at Station 63 on Shell Avenue in Venice for ten years until January last year, now works full-time with the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112 union.
The veteran firefighter has distinguished himself with strong values, ethics and integrity during his time with the department, according to the firefighters association. His leadership has been recognized with his election as second vice president of the firefighters union, where he has served as an active labor representative, according to the association.
“Captain Norris has dedicated his entire career to protecting the people of Los Angeles and ensuring the safety of every resident in our city,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who attended the Firefighter of the Year luncheon. “He is a model firefighter and an extraordinary human being, and his service should serve as a model and example for all of us.”
Expressing his surprise at the Firefighter of the Year honor, Norris said the “hairs on the back of my neck stood up” when he heard the news, adding that it was “beyond comprehension.”
“I undoubtedly have a tremendous sense of pride for the department,” said the 60-year-old Norris, who lives in Calabasas and has two children and three grandchildren. “I’ve been honored to spend my career with L.A. City.”
Norris was quite literally born to be a firefighter. His family tradition for firefighting dates all the way back to 1871.
A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Norris graduated from Brookline High School in 1965 and then served as a shipboard firefighter with the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1970.
After returning from the war, Norris joined the Brookline Fire Department in 1971 and remained there until 1975, when he relocated to Los Angeles to begin his career with the Los Angles City Fire Department in the San Fernando Valley.
During his more than 30 years with LAFD, Norris has served at eight stations throughout the city, including those in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Westwood. One of his favorite communities to work in was Venice, his most recent assignment with the department.
“It was a fabulous assignment,” recalled Norris, who served as a senior fire captain on the B shift at Station 63. “I had a great time in Venice.
“I thought it was one of the best areas of the city to work in. It had the best weather and the best scenery.”
Former colleagues of Norris at Station 63 said they were pleased to hear of the former station commander’s selection as Firefighter of the Year.
“I think it’s outstanding and well deserved,” said Apparatus Operator John Maestri, who drove the fire engine for Norris on the B shift for eight years.
Maestri commended Norris for his service with the firefighters union and called him a good supervisor, who passed on a great deal of knowledge.
“He let me do my own thing,” Maestri said. “He led by example.”
Station 63 Capt. Jerry Johnson, who joked that Norris was known for his Boston accent, agreed that Norris was a “good leader.”
After working as a firefighter for nearly 40 years, Norris said he plans to retire in about two months. While he has been proud to dedicate his career to the LAFD, Norris called firefighting a “young man’s game” and said he wants to have time to relax.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work for the best fire department in the country,” Norris said.