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Firefighters roll through city on a healing quest

Ben Godar

A caravan of fire engines rolled through Burbank and Glendale on

Thursday, but instead of fighting fires, those on board were on a

mission to raise money for burn victims.

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The events were part of a weeklong fund-raiser by Firefighters

Quest for Burn Survivors, a group founded in 1997 after Glendale

Firefighter Bill Jensen and five other firefighters were injured

fighting a blaze in Malibu.

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Glendale Fire Department Engineer Tom Propst and others began

raising money to help their families, but Propst said the response

was so successful they continued to raise money for other victims.

Since its inception, Firefighters Quest has raised more than

$400,000.

“When we initiated the program, we did it as a one-time thing, but

support just grew and grew,” he said.

Every year, the caravan moves from department to department

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throughout Southern California accepting donations. It has grown from

18 participating departments in its first year to 80 agencies

spanning five counties.

In addition to helping fund actual treatments, Burbank Fire

Engineer Terry Mencuri said Firefighters Quest helps pay for the

long-term costs of recovering from burns which victims and their

families must bear.

“Burns are probably one of the most traumatic things you can go

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through emotionally and physically,” Mencuri said.

Thursday was the third day of a five-day journey that Propst

estimated would raise $95,000. As the train of fire vehicles moved

across the area, it was led by an engine from its last stop carrying

longtime supporter and former KABC-TV Channel 7 weather forecaster

George Fischbeck.

Firefighters Quest is operated exclusively by volunteers, and

organizers said all donations go directly to burn victims. Organizers

have donated money to victims from Bakersfield to Orange County, and

even sent funds to victims in Washington, D.C. and New York City

following the 2001 terrorist attacks, Propst said.

Jensen, on-hand for the caravan’s stop at Warner Bros. Ranch, said

it was great to see a program started in part to help him grow to

help so many other people.

“Every burn survivor needs to be treated like everyone else,” he

said. “We’re all human.”


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