Jay Beeler

Long Beach’s new fire chief, Xavier Espino, was a recent guest speaker at a Rotary Club of Long Beach luncheon aboard the Queen Mary and updated attendees on activities at the LBFD.

One item of great concern is the impact on the Fire Department of the closure of Community Hospital of Long Beach. Espino said they are currently looking into the statistics relating to the additional transport times as well as how many lives may have been lost as a result of long-distance transports.

Engine 17, which is based at the newly named Captain David Rosa Regional Training Center, will be restored in service to eastside residents next year. Some of the 23 recruits graduating next week from class 2018B will be staffing the engine company, which requires 12 personnel: three shifts with four firefighters per shift.

A larger class is planned for next year, according to Espino.

Another Homelessness Education and Response Team (HEART) unit is planned to become operational soon. In its first two years, the current HEART unit has successfully addressed the unique needs of the homeless population, thereby freeing other firefighters/paramedics for other needs citywide.

Espino stated that the Fire Department’s primary mission is to protect the city, but as part of the mutual assistance agreement between cities, the LBFD did send a few strike teams to the recent rash of Southern California fires. They were “mixed strike teams,” meaning one of more engines from other cities would team with two or more engines from Long Beach (four total), plus a battalion chief, assigned to a specific area in need.

Espino joined LBFD as firefighter/paramedic in 1986 after receiving an associate degree in fire technology from Santa Ana College and he went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in occupational studies from CSULB.

His father retired as a captain with the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD). Espino recalled that his dad “Always came home happy. Like something good happened at work. That cemented his desire to become a firefighter.

“I was advised that if I couldn’t get a job with the LACFD that I should go to Long Beach,” he said. “Fortunately Long Beach called first.”

Most of his operational time was in the downtown area bordered by PCH on the north and Redondo on the east.

Afterward, when asked to answer a few questions from the audience Espino jokingly said “I would much rather run into a burning building than to answer questions.”

And he did a great job anyway when responding to questions.


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