Memorial in Concord for Contra Costa County’s Fallen Firefighters

July 21, 2014 16:00 pm · 46 comments


As we previously reported, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District held a memorial service for fallen firefighters today in Concord.

The following information is from the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County on Facebook. You can visit them by clicking ON THIS LINK.:

To those that were not in attendance at today’s memorial service in Concord at the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Training Division, we would like to share President Wells’ speech:

On behalf of the members of Local 1230 I would like to thank you for coming to this memorial service to join us as we remember our fallen firefighters. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Local 1230 Honor Guard for their participation in this service and for the many other services they provide to members of our profession both past and present.

This is the sixth year that we’ve held these services and still the memories of the tragic events that lead to the creation of this memorial wall, have not been forgotten.

I still remember that early morning phone call from OB, Chief Obrien and his words, “we lost two tonight.” I still remember arriving at Carolyn Desmond’s house early that morning as part of the notification team, and the look on her face as she opened the door with their son Tyler in her arms, knowing immediately why we were there so early that morning.

I remember arriving at Pinole Fire Station 73 a few hours after the fire and seeing all the crews huddled up in threes and Engineer Tony Miller standing alone as the only survivor of E70.

I also remember all the events that followed as we planned their memorial services. I remember the time I shared with Matt Burton in the recruit academy and the calls I ran with Scott Desmond. I also have vivid memories of John Nunes as he worked tirelessly with crews, on preparing the hose bed of Engine 70 for transporting Matt Burton’s coffin to his burial site while at Station 10.

Ironically, we did the same thing for John as he died tragically, two years later.

As I promised then, we will continue to stay close to the families and keep the stories of their loved ones alive. We will continue to remember the passion of Mike Impastato and his love for this union. I remember Kent Leverton and his rope rescue skills as we worked to recover the bodies of those killed and injured at the Tosco refinery. I remember Captain Ferrante and his tough outer shell but passion “for the people.” I reflect back on Captain John Nunes and his expertise in personal protective gear and his work to assure we had the best protective equipment.

I remember Dave Gehling and his passion for EMS and the lists he was famous for making. I remember Jim Capra as he fought his illness and Terry Warners stories and unusual eating habits. I have not had the opportunity to work with all the people whose names are on this wall, but I have heard many of their stories. There’s a picture on the wall at Station 1 of firefighters who shaved their heads in support of Rene Penaloza’s fight with cancer. Also we remember John Fields whose memorial plaques sits in front of Pittsburg Fire Station 87 which is now closed.

Our memories of those who have paid the ultimate price for this community will live into eternity. This wall and this memorial service will assure that happens.

As Union President, I have had the opportunity to escort many of the families of our fallen to the IAFF Memorial wall in Colorado Springs and to the California Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Sacramento as our heroes names were placed on those walls along with others. I encourage all of you to travel to Colorado Springs and Sacramento to witness the annual ceremonies honoring the names of those on the wall as they add new names.

Again, thank you Chief, staff, and all those who maintain this wall and who continue this memorial service. Thank all of you for coming.

To my fellow Firefighters,

Stay safe and watch each other’s back. With the funding shortages that have depleted our resources and staffing; it is paramount that we stick together, and keep an eye on each other, to make sure we all go home safe to our families when our shift is over and avoid adding any more names to this wall!

God bless each and every one of you.

Jojo Potato July 21, 2014 at 5:52 PM

I was thinking of going, it’s not far from my house. But when I read that firefighters that had died from cancer were included in the role it was a total turn off. Ok there are some heroes, put padding the list with something that can happen to all of us is just wrong. Smells strongly of begging for sympathy which is so unneccesary when there’s already plenty to go around.

Tom July 21, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Some people are more respectful than others.

Shelly July 21, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Jojo Potato, maybe they should have specified “mesothelioma”, and THEN you could’ve attended with a clear conscience.

And let's not forget...... July 21, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Dave Vanni from Station 6 – he was a great guy.

Silva July 21, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Dave Vanni’s gone?

Silva July 21, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Oh I guess he is. was a classmate at Acalanes, sorry to hear. yeah, great guy. saw the TV show of him and some people rescue a struggling horse.

Sean July 21, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Jojo, google “toxic hot seat” it’s a very informative HBO documentary about the products in today’s houses and the gases they give off when they burn.

Pyrrhus July 21, 2014 at 8:41 PM

JoJo, So I guess all those firefighters that have died or dying of cancer from the clean up of 9/11 don’t deserve your respect as well?

Any person, be they military, police, firefighter, paramedic, or other first responder deserves respect.

Mary July 21, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Why are fire fighters in a Union? Do they think they need to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers?

@ Silva July 21, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Did you also know Rick Hughes and Dave Dreese???? I lived across from Rick…………..Dave Vanni was a great guy as were all of the Vanni kids

@ Mary #9 July 21, 2014 at 9:27 PM

It’s people like you that make me wonder why anyone would go into public service……You probably live in Section 8 housing while collecting welfare you ungrateful toad

sigh... July 21, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Lost me at “funding shortages”. Shameless.

Anne July 21, 2014 at 10:03 PM

JoJo, do some basic googling before you type such ignorant, idiotic things. The cancer that these guys are dying from are proven to be caused by exposures at work. At least Pyrrhus has it right. So I guess the New York City Medical Examiner is “padding the list” also with the 1400 rescue workers who have died since the 9/11 attacks from EXPOSURE? Get a clue..glad you didn’t go, good riddance. And thank you ConFire for all that you do for the people who appreciate you and even the ones who don’t. We support you.

Silva July 21, 2014 at 10:11 PM

#10, No, sorry I don’t remember them. I remember Dave had a twin sister Vicky, and they were nice,

Silva July 21, 2014 at 10:24 PM

#10, What part of town did you live in? I only knew them from school. M. H Stanley & Acalanes.

anon July 21, 2014 at 10:50 PM

@ Mary #9: You’re either a troll or a person that is anti firefighters and other agencies that help the working people. Just go away, we don’t need welfare people like you on this site.

Puddintain July 21, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Mary’s an obvious troll trying to get a rise.

commonsense July 21, 2014 at 11:52 PM

I have a family member on that wall and my husband is a firefighter. JoJo, you are a moron. How about you watch someone die of cancer after he has spent his short career saving the lovely citizens like yourself who have no idea what it’s like to inhale toxins on a daily basis. Please don’t bother showing up to these memorials. I wish there was a way to block people from receiving firefighters services. Also, for whomever didn’t appreciate the comment to the firefighters about staying safe out there especially since staffing levels are so horrendous…. How about you look into the eyes of the widows/spouses and kids of these firefighters who are forever changed. Staffing shortages, over worked employees and forced MANDATORY overtime is a ticking time bomb. EVERY DAY my spouse leaves for work, I have to mentally prepare myself that it could be his last day on earth. Thank you to the heros… Thank you to their families. Thank you Vince for honoring them and may we never ever forget.

@ Silva July 22, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Actually Vicki was a year younger than Dave and they had a another youger brother Dan.
I lived off Moraga Blvd on Victoria so I went to Lafayette, Stanley and Acalanes (class of 76)

@ Commonsence July 22, 2014 at 7:57 AM

All Ican say is “amen sister”……..To many on Claycord have “paycheck/career” envy. They could have made the same career choice but didn’t. It is soooo much easier for them to spend their boring little days pissing and moaning on Claycord…….just a bunch of losers

Horse n around July 22, 2014 at 8:46 AM

@Commonsence. Sorry for your loss on your family member. We also have a member of the family who is a Firefighter. And wanted to say thank you to your husband for helping and being there for us. And YOU also deserve a shout out. I am a wife of LE. And I know the sacrifices that our husbands make and we as wives have to make everyday. It’s something other people wouldn’t understand unless you live the life. Stay safe and may God protect you all. 🙂

Silva July 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Oh okay, Not twins. In the same grade though, right? I think I was told they were twins. Sweet kids. Me too, class of 73 but moved away in 71. Lived on Beechwood Dr. and also at the top of the hill on Hawthorne Drive. Long ago. Good times.

RunDogRun July 22, 2014 at 9:39 AM


The incidence of cancer among
firefighters far exceeds that of
the general population. I’ve only
known two firefighters in my life,
and they both died of lung cancer
from the toxics they inhaled while
on the job. Not a coincidence.

Silva July 22, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Why did some nice and respectful comments in response to the origional first one have to be removed too? I expressed my great appreciation for these people who put their lives on the table every single day saving and protecting others, knowing of the enormous risk to themselves. I have no firsthand experience of that, but I’d like to say THANK YOU to all that do.

Mary July 22, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Why would anyone take on a dangerous job where they would be overworked, had chronic staffing shortage and forced to work overtime?
Can you say money?
Oh, and the jobs are dangerous? Are you kidding?
Firefighting did not even make the 10 deadliest jobs according to Forbes :

1. Logging workers
2. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
4. Roofers
5. Structural iron and steel workers
6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
10. Construction laborers

Silva July 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Mary if it’s such a cushy gig, why can’t you just go get in? What, they don”t need any trolls?

No chicken little July 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Study after study show firefighters have no higher risk of cancer than the general public. I would contend that garbageman face far more potential from hazards of household and industrial chemicals than any profession. Also provide more benefit to the general public on a day in and day out basis than any fireman. Think about it. And no, I’m not a garbageman or related to a garbageman just common sense thinking. I propose ClayCord starts the garbageman’s memorial.

@ Silva July 22, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Actually Dave was class of 72 and Vicki 73. Yes Lafayette was a great place to grow up, but then in the early/mid 70’s most places were safe.

As fror Mary – everyone ignore her. Just another section 8, welfare recipient troll………Nobody cares what you think Mary. Hope you never need a firefighter.

Mary July 22, 2014 at 12:19 PM

There is nothing wrong about going after a well paying job with lots of benefits but don’t think that they are all doing it for altruistic reasons. This conception that because it is a public service job makes them deserve our thanks anymore than most other jobs is irrational thinking.

fun4all July 22, 2014 at 1:08 PM

To all the ney sayers. I am now retired form the fire service after 30 plus years of service, somewhat healthy but broken up. As a fire fighter we dont ask for pats on the backs or thank you from the public, never have. We do a job just like most of you. The job is just in the spotlight more so than others. We didnt ask for that. Until you walk in the shoes of the people you criticize; fire, police, garbage workers, nurses, doctors and the list goes on, all these jobs are needed and have a purpose. If you are unhappy with your life decisions then make changes otherwise you will end up meeting your maker as an angry, hateful individual. No way to live your life.

No chicken little July 22, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Fun4all I agree with you. I just chime in when some people like to perpetuate the myth that firefighters die at higher than natural rates of cancer and are injured more on the job than anybody else.( Just not true) Making it ok for the police and fire fighters Unions to buy the whore politicians. Bankrupting the cities and counties of the state. The unions try to perpetuate the myth that they are special and they deserve this golden pension plan.( in place for the last 10 or so years) But don’t blame us the taxpayer for trying to put a stop to it. Before the bankruptcy courts do. I’m not a hater. Just a realist.

figures July 22, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Like clockwork, let someone be critical of the outrageous and unsustainable pensions, and then it’s firefighters and their “hero”-worshipping brigade of cheerleading sycophants that trot out the same old tired line of “you’re just jealous” as the go-to retort. And don’t ask for pats on the back? Ha, I know more than a couple firefighters and their wives and the sense of entitlement is great with these ones. Regardless, it’s not the pats on the back, it’s the constant crying poor and fear-mongering (“close this station and this block will burn down”) to try and guilt/scare people into voting for the latest tax increase measure on the ballot.

And No Chicken Little is 100% correct, firefighters do NOT have a shorter lifespan than the rest of the population. In fact, it was none other than CalPERS that debunked this myth, showing that firefighters actually have a greater life expectancy.

@ No Chicken Little July 22, 2014 at 3:15 PM

The reason cities in CA are broke has very little to do with public safety and everything to do with the state either syphoning off money to cover welfare or mandating local agencies, with out funding to go with, to provide free services and handout to the leaches that refuse to work. Only people like Dan Boarstink and other hack media make it seem the other way because good forbid people really know the cost of Welfare and the other freebies that are handed out in CA. The taxpayer pays very little for actual service they receive or towards salaries/benefits of service providers when compared to all the Welfare, Section 8, MediCal, free medical for undocs etc. CA has the highest benefit payouts of any state and also does not apply the “5 year” limit for receiving such benefits. Once on Welfare, Secion 8 etc you can cruise the rest of you life inthe “Golden State”…makes me sick
Also get ready as your BOS is about to give themselves a 50% raise!!!!! They will jump from $104,425 (includes 4% & 3% colas of rep employees) to $156,634. Now that should tick people off.

No Chicken Little July 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Police and fire pensions in some cities and county’s are soon to be 100% of their annual budget. Unsustainable

Mary July 22, 2014 at 3:45 PM

When I see these firefighters and other public service employees pad their salaries with unused vacation pay or overtime prior to retiring it sickens me how low these people will go to scam the system. They are no different than those who steal from the welfare system.

@ Mary July 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Yes the are different……they work and pay taxes too. Welfare folks don’t do anything but leach off the system and keep procreating so they can get more money…….Big difference sister.
Chicken Little – please go and actually review budget docs before you speak. The Chevron/Rossmoor lead CC Taxpayers Assoc and their type want you to believe that but in reality it’s not true. And NO COUNTY IN CA WILL EVER have a budget of 100% public safety salaries & benefit because the state of CA MANDATES programs for the leaches. That is why there have been safety cuts to take care of the Welfarites. God forbid they get off their fat fannies and get work

No chicken little July 22, 2014 at 8:35 PM

I know you have all your figures and everyone else is wrong including the nonpartisan legislative analysis office. LA times , Sacramento bee, all well-known conservative hacks. (And you were the same person who said it was all lies, when they instituted this crap) They have patched some holes with temporary tax gimmicks. And the end to spiking. But billions in non-funded liabilities. Will soon come home to roost. But by then you will have 20 other people to blame for the robbery of the public trust. It’s all lies. Trust you. RIGHT….

Anne July 22, 2014 at 10:15 PM
Cautiously Informed July 22, 2014 at 11:00 PM

@ No Chicken Little

Where do you get your information regarding workplace cancer? From the National Enquirer?

SpitDog July 23, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Do they go into that retirement healthy,
unscathed, uninjured, active as they
were when they worked to earn that
retirement? Those CALpers stats
don’t tell you that. And, you can’t get
the job unless you are in great physical
condition. You’re saying they don’t make
sacrifices for the job … and for the people
they protect. Think, again!

Guap July 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Pretty long list….

No chicken little July 23, 2014 at 6:30 PM

So you think the NOISH study is your smoking gun. I find it limited in scope by its own admission. Does not take into account regional cancer rates cancer rates for women. women fighters were not included in the study. Smoking or tobacco use was not included. family history not included.,etc,etc, One thing it did was start a cascade of lawsuits and massive cost to the tax payers. Because if the union and layers have there way, every fighter can get Worker’s Comp, that has cancer Even years after retirement. CalPers said the cost would be minimal. (But never did a study. Just there feelings,)because the cancer rates were so low. But low and behold the unions and trial lawyers, using this Obama administration study. Have twisted the law and now it will be tied up in court for years. Costing states and municipalities tens of millions. The tax payers continue to be fleeced. Fact.firefighters live longer than average lives. Look it up. Search the lawsuits and cancer rates, and the internals of the study. it’s all on the internet. Not the Enquirer. Or continue the myth.

Cautiously Informed July 23, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Oh yes. If it’s on the internet, it’s gotta be true.

Big Dog July 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM

@No Chicken little – This story is about two (2) young men that risked their lives on 7/21/2007 to save the lives of two (2) citizens that were trapped in a burning building. These brave men lost their lives to try to save others, period! The Bible says that there is no other noble cause than that, to give your life so that others may live.
Nothing you can say, in print or otherwise, can change the fact that these two men are heroes. You can troll up all the useless facts on irrelevant arguments, but the fact is they will always be heroes and you will most likely (unless you change your ways) always be a negative individual.
I am sorry that this is your strategy to get through life, I can’t imagine having that much negativity flowing through my veins and coming out of my mouth everyday. We will all continue to feel sorry for you, and pray that you change.

@ Big Dog July 24, 2014 at 7:49 AM


Silva July 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Big Dog; Amen.

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