Memorial for 40 fallen firefighters a solemn reminder in Calif. city

By Anne Kallas
The Ventura County Star

VENTURA, Calif. — Fresh off the front lines of the Guiberson fire, Steve Reeder said a Ventura ceremony Saturday to honor fallen firefighters over the years was a reminder to him and his peers about the job's dangers.

"We do this day in and day out, and it becomes a job. We forget the hazards, that what we're doing is dangerous, and this reminds us that we need to protect each other," said Reeder, a battalion chief in San Luis Obispo.

As firefighters from agencies in Ventura County and elsewhere stood in the sun, the 40 local firefighters who have died on the job since 1944 were remembered at the County Government Center, under fully extended, crossed ladders from Fillmore and Oxnard fire trucks.

Families of fallen firefighters were also present to honor their loved ones. Judy Tyner of Ventura was there in memory of husband Terry Tyner, who died of a heart attack in 1998. "This is a really special time to come and remember him and honor him and be thankful for the life he lived," she said.

County Supervisor Steve Bennett, who attended with fellow supervisors John Zaragoza and Linda Parks, said firefighters are at the pinnacle of public service.

"Every time a firefighter leaves home, you never know what's facing you that day," Bennett said, adding that the firefighter's family faces the same anxiety. "This is an opportunity to remind us of what you're doing and your commitment."

Special note was made of Capt. Tedmund "Ted" Hall and Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones, who died in the recent Station fire near Acton, before the 40 names of the local fallen firefighters were read and honored by the ringing of bells.

"The bells were rung three times at the end of the shift to signal the end of a call," explained master of ceremonies Michael Lavery, chief of the city of Ventura Fire Department.

Reeder said he and some other firefighters would head back to the Guiberson fire after the ceremony. The fire between Fillmore and Moorpark started Tuesday and burned 17,500 acres but was 97 percent contained Saturday. Ten firefighters suffered minor injuries in the battle.

Reeder said what might seem like heroics to civilians is just another day on the job for him and the rest of his crew.

"It's like a soldier who goes off to war. I don't want to go to war, but then most people don't want to go fight fires."

Copyright 2009 Ventura County Star
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