Remembering the Fallen Firefighters

The mournful wail of a bagpipe and the urgent cry of a siren blended Tuesday during a tribute to Los Angeles firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

The bagpipe was played on the lawn of City Hall, where a noontime crowd was gathered to honor the 48 men who have died fighting fires and performing rescues for the 107-year-old city Fire Department.

The siren was sounded by firefighters and paramedics rushing to aid a pedestrian struck by a car at 1st and Main streets, across from City Hall.

The unidentified pedestrian survived after an onlooker alerted firefighters on the lawn and sent them hurrying to the scene.

Meantime, the ceremony continued. "For the people of Los Angeles, I say, 'Thank you,' " Mayor Richard Riordan told the crowd of about 250.

Fire Chief Donald Manning, noting that it has been nearly nine years since the last city firefighter was killed, conceded that "we have been fortunate."

Listening somberly from the side was Stephen Sherrill, a deputy Los Angeles County fire chief. Three members of his department have died on duty this year alone.

And in the audience, dabbing her eyes, was Carol Pinel, widow of the last city firefighter to be killed on duty. Benjamin Pinel of San Pedro died in a 1984 blaze at the Proud Bird restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport.

Women are recruited as firefighters these days, Pinel said as she stood after the ceremony with her arm around her 9-year-old daughter, Nicole.

"But if she was thinking about becoming one, I think I'd try to steer her into something else," the woman said quietly.

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