Fire Department Chaplain Receives Service Award


The Los Angeles Fire Department’s only Roman Catholic chaplain was honored Wednesday with the 1997 Service to Mankind Award by an organization that includes many former firefighters, organizers said.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chaplain Christian Van Liefde was praised at a luncheon at Elysian Park by members of the organization Sertoma, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping disadvantaged youths.

“Father Chris has married us, baptized us, and buried us,” said Los Angeles Fire Capt. Steve Ruda. “You can’t get a better, more dedicated man than Father Chris.”


In addition to his spiritual work with firefighters and their families during times of crisis, Van Liefde was praised for helping residents.

“He takes care of the souls of those we save,” Ruda said. During a serious fire, Van Liefde can often be seen rushing to the scene in his red car with license plate that reads “FD CHAP,” Ruda said.

“That’s a welcome site at any fire or fire station,” Ruda said.