Since his retirement from LAFD Fire Station 23, former firefighter and paramedic, Bruce Young, enjoys the company of other retired firefighters in the area over some breakfast.
One day, Bruce discovered newsletter software and another fire department holding a breakfast sit down. Using this new communication tool, he started the LAFD Greater Alarm Breakfast Club newsletter and began notifying everyone about meet ups, and sharing what happened at the morning hang outs.
The first meeting was held at Paradise Cove with 15 people, which later turned into 35-45 regulars. Now, their usual spot for the last nine years has been Mimi’s Café in Thousand Oaks, California. The group started off with firefighters he worked with and grew to include firefighters outside of Station 23.
These monthly breakfasts have given Young and other retired firefighters a chance to get to know each other and talk about non work-related topics. For instance, Young had crossed paths with helicopter pilot Larry Harris at work, but never got to know him on-duty. Now, Larry is a Breakfast Club regular.
He says, “I didn’t know Larry personally (before). Finding out that he wasn’t just a helicopter pilot for the fire department, but also did this draft horse race and it’s like a family tradition. That’s something I found interesting.”
A draft horse race is like the ones you see in the Super Bowl commercials for Budweiser, according to Bruce.
Camaraderie and Support for the Firefighter’s Fund
Besides creating camaraderie, the club also takes the opportunity to raise money for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund. Every meeting, another firefighter, Kirk Bingham, passes around an old fire bucket to collect donations. Young doesn’t remember how it started, but the Breakfast Club has kept the momentum going, raising more than $13,000 total. A large portion of those donations are thanks to a donor who prefers not to be named.
He chuckles, “Thanks much to this particular individual who’s been coming a while. He’s amazingly generous, but wants to remain anonymous.”
Boat & Car Show
Sometimes, the Breakfast Club hosts a car and boat show around summer, giving them a chance to showcase their classic rides. The idea came about five years ago after discovering the majority of the attendees are accomplished in drag racing and boat racing and some also restore vintage cars.
The club newsletter also features what some of retired firefighters are up to such as vacations or fishing trips.
Occasionally retired club members move to a different state—like Young who’s enjoying retirement in Idaho. But distance does not matter. For those who’ve dedicated their lives to a career in the fire service, there is a natural bond. Even though Young moved out-of-state, he still maintains in contact with the retired firefighting community from afar.
By Katherine Abando