Since 15-year-old Steve Stirling could not go to headquarters to see his father promoted from fire inspector to captain, the ceremony Tuesday was brought to his bedside in Childrens Hospital of Orange County.
Stirling, who is in critical condition with cystic fibrosis, watched from his bed as Los Angeles County Fire Chief John Englund administered the oath to his father, Richard.
Steve's mother and several of his father's co-workers crowded around the ninth-grader's bed to share the family's moment of pride.
His father said that as a child Steve liked to ride dirt bikes and water ski, and he wanted to be a firefighter someday.
Several years ago, when the disease began to manifest itself, the Stirlings knew their son might not live to realize his dreams.
They had lost another son, at age 16, six years ago to cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that attacks the digestive and respiratory systems.
Richard Stirling, 43, said the family is holding out hope that Steve will recover, even though he fears that his son is dying.
"We're keeping him resting and sleeping . . . . He's just trying to fight off the disease, but I doubt that he'll survive," Stirling said.
Because Steve could not be moved, Chief Englund decided to hold the promotion ceremony for his father, who is an 18-year veteran of the department, at the hospital.
"Promotions involve families, and this one is no exception," said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Pat Bradshaw, quoting the chief.
At the swearing-in with the chief and Bradshaw were Assistant Chief Robert Sarno and Stirling's immediate supervisor, Capt. Gordon Pearson.
Stirling works in the public information office of the department headquarters in Los Angeles, where, among his other duties, he issues fire permits to the film industry.