Fellow firefighters, family, friends and community members came together at services earlier this month to pay tribute to veteran Los Angeles Firefighter Brent Lovrien, who lost his life doing what he loved.
Firefighters who served with Lovrien say that the third-generation firefighter took great pride in his job and loved being a member of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD).
“He was a very special member of the Fire Department,” recalled LAFD Chief Doug Barry at a candlelight vigil ceremony held for the Station 95 firefighter Thursday, April 3rd.
“His bravery, enthusiasm for the job and commitment to serving others should serve as an example to all of us and is something we should all try to emulate.”
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 firefighter who previously served three years as a federal firefighter at the Long Beach naval base, served on the “A” platoon at Station 95 near Century Boulevard in Westchester.
He was the first Los Angeles firefighter to die in the line of duty since 2004.
Another Fire Station 95 firefighter, Engineer Anthony Guzman, 48, suffered multiple fractures and facial trauma in the blast and is recovering after being released from the hospital.
City officials attributed the fatal explosion to an electrical cable from an underground vault that suffered a ground fault, creating unburned combustible gases that pressurized inside the electrical storage room at the Water and Power Community Credit Union. Lovrien had attempted to open the electrical panel using a rotary saw, which created a spark that ignited the gases, officials said.
The Fire Department held the candlelight vigil for Lovrien a week after his death at Station 5 on Emerson Avenue in Westchester.
The following day, Friday, April 4th, thousands attended memorial services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Public officials, uniformed firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel took part in a walking procession to the cathedral as members of the LAFD carried Lovrien’s red casket with “LAFD 95” etched on the front. Funeral services followed at the Calvary Chapel in Downey.
At the candlelight vigil ceremony in Westchester, the firefighter known as “Lovey” was remembered as a joyful person and a dedicated employee who was committed to helping others. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the Westchester area in the 11th Council District, noted how Lovrien had brought a woman out of harm’s way prior to the explosion.
“Full of life and full of love is how he’s being remembered,” Rosendahl said. “He truly is a hero to all of us.”
David Nahai, general manager of the Department of Water and Power, said Lovrien’s name “has become immortal and will live to teach us the true meaning of heroism.”
Colleagues who were close to Lovrien remembered him as a fun-loving person who would liven up the environment around the fire station but was also dedicated to his profession.
“He was everything that’s right with fire service,” Engineer Brendan O’Connor said. “He was the guy who wanted to be at the forefront, which is why he was in the position he was in.”
Apparatus Operator Craig Yamashiro added that Lovrien “lived life to the fullest.”
“He was one of the few men who I truly consider to be a brother,” Yamashiro said. “You could always rely on Brent.”
Station 95 Capt. Phil Delbar said Lovrien had an interest in firefighting from an early age and was influenced to go into fire service by his grandfather, who served as a firefighter in Downey.
“Whenever he came to work, he was always upbeat and always had a positive attitude,” Delbar recalled of Lovrien. “He always did what he was asked and was very passionate.”
Derrick Ward, a colleague of Lovrien’s at Station 95, said the first week following his death was “emotionally taxing” on the firefighters but they have come together to cope with the loss.
“We’ve been dealing with the loss of Brent together like a family — that’s what the fire department really is,” Barry said at the vigil.
Delbar said Station 95 is planning tributes to remember Lovrien at the station, including posting pictures on the wall, putting up a flag in his honor and dedicating a memorial locker.
Lovrien, a La Habra resident, was born in Norwalk on December 13th, 1972, as the youngest son of Glenn and Patricia Lovrien. He graduated from California High School in Whittier and attended Cypress College before graduating from the Rio Hondo Fire Academy in 1991.
Lovrien joined the LAFD in September 1997 and received specialized training in hazardous materials and urban search and rescue during his tenure.
According to the LAFD, donations in memory of Lovrien and for assistance for the Guzman family can be sent to:
Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association, c/o Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund, P.O. Box 41903, Los Angeles 90041; www.lafra.org/; or
Fire Family Foundation, c/o Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union, 815 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles 90041; firefamilyfounda tion.org/.