Mark Hatch said it started four years ago with a simple idea scrawled onto a Post-it note: Make a wall of fame plaque honoring the paramedics of the Burbank Fire Department.
The battalion chief’s idea became a reality on Thursday when the agency formally unveiled its Paramedic Wall of Fame to a crowd of about 50 former and current members of the department’s emergency medical services division, along with their family members.
The plaque, painted fire engine red and featuring shoulder patches worn by the paramedics, was adorned with roughly 120 names of everyone who has been a member of the division, with the oldest members dating back to 1975.
“We wanted to honor those who started and built the [paramedic] program, those who are currently going through it and then inspire future paramedics who want to get their name on that wall and serve their city,” Hatch said.
While the wall of fame had been years in the making, Hatch said the actual work didn’t begin until about six months ago when the opportunity presented itself to make it happen.
Everything was done in “true firefighter fashion,” according to Hatch, with all aspects of the plaque being done in-house. Members of the department funded the plaque, came up with the design and a fire engineer who does metalworking built it himself.
When he first saw the plaque completed, Hatch said it gave him goosebumps.
“It was an emotional, humbling moment to see it all in one spot,” he said.
Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia, who was a paramedic engineer with the city at one point, said the plaque is a good keepsake to have honoring the department’s paramedics and that it will be on display in Fire Station 15, which is the EMS headquarters.
He said the unveiling underscored how important paramedics are to the department because the number of people who attended the event was much larger than expected.
“It’s been cool to see some of these faces that have been retired for some time,” he said. “Some of these new [paramedics] don’t know who these guys are, so it’s been really neat to see them interact … It’s just fantastic.”