LAFD Foundation Presents Valor Awards 2020

Thursday, April 29, 2021

VALOR is the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation's annual awards ceremony honoring LAFD members for outstanding service above and beyond the call of duty. This ceremony recognized actions taken during 2020.

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LAFD Medal of Valor from Los Angeles Fire Department on Vimeo.


***VALOR Awards 2020 Program PDF***




MEDAL OF VALOR: The Medal of Valor is awarded to sworn personnel who have demonstrated bravery at great risk to their own lives, beyond a doubt and clearly above the call of duty, whether on or off-duty.

MEDAL OF MERIT: The Medal of Merit is awarded to sworn personnel who distinguish themselves by performing an act where the individual’s actions, if not taken, would have resulted in serious injury or present imminent danger to life. The individual must have demonstrated a conspicuous act of bravery with calculated personal risk to his or her own life.

LETTER OF SPECIAL COMMENDATION: A Letter of Special Commendation is awarded to department members who perform an act requiring initiative and/ or ability worthy of recognition during emergency or non-emergency conditions.

CORPORATE IMPACT AWARD: The Corporate Impact Award is presented to a company that exhibits philanthropic excellence in the community, outstanding corporate citizenship, and longstanding support of the Department and its personnel.

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD: The Community Impact Award is presented to an organization that provides invaluable service to the community and outstanding support for the people of Los Angeles.

STATION OF THE YEAR AWARD: The Station of the Year Award is presented to the men and women assigned to one specific station, who collectively exhibit exemplary service, professionalism, bravery, and compassion.


Community Impact Award - CORE

Corporate Impact Award - Farmers Insurance

Station of the Year Award - Station 9

Special Commendation - Firefighter III Cody Crippen, FS 29 B Platoon 

Medal of Merit - Engineer Robert Medrano, FS 15 A Platoon

Medal of Merit - Firefighter/Paramedic Wesley Manning, FS-107 B Platoon

Medal of Merit - Captain I Rob Scott, FS-95 B Platoon

Medal of Valor - Captain II Kenneth Willahan, FS-95 B Platoon

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Special Commendation - Firefighter III Cody Crippen, FS 29 B Platoon

Cody Crippen

On a sweltering August evening, Firefighter III Cody Crippen was set to enjoy some family time at the local pool. Not long after settling in, Cody heard screaming, ensued by a whirlwind of commotion. He looked up and saw a woman carrying a lifeless little boy.

Cody rushed to help as a crowd gathered. He encountered a father performing CPR on the unconscious child. Cody identified himself as a firefighter and knelt down to help.

He quickly cleared the boy’s airway, delivered a series of back blows alternated by chest compressions. During the third set of compressions, the boy began to regain consciousness.

Within minutes of reviving the boy, local firefighters arrived on the scene. Cody conducted the handoff with the ambulance crew, then proceeded to comfort the child’s parents while paramedics rendered care.

Thankfully the little boy has recovered fully due to the father’s CPR training and Firefighter Crippen’s heroic actions.

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Medal of Merit - Engineer Robert Medrano, FS 15 A Platoon

Robert Medrano

On a late August evening, Task Force 15 was dispatched to a sizable residential fire near Exposition Park. As is customary, Engineer Robert Medrano went to work securing the water supply for Engine 46 as soon as he arrived on the scene. With his primary task completed, he quickly moved on to survey the exterior of the structure.

He made his way to the backyard and encountered a frantic group of residents. They were unharmed but claimed two members of the household were still trapped inside.

At this point, heavy fire was showing from all sides of the building. With no time to waste, Engineer Medrano entered through the back door in search of the entrapped victims. He crouched low and moved with haste as thick, noxious smoke billowed throughout the house.

He searched until he located a blocked door, but it was too late. His eyes were searing. His lungs burned from the smoke and from holding his breath. He had to retreat to the backyard and regain his breath.

Twice more, he reentered the burning home in search of the trapped victims. On his third attempt, the door was breached with help from Engine 66 crew members, and the two victims were extracted. Engineer Medrano proceeded to render aid to a barely breathing female victim until she was loaded into an ambulance.

Medrano performed these acts despite not having his selfcontained breathing apparatus (SCBA) - a firefighter’s face protection and breathing system. He suffered significant smoke inhalation and was transported to a nearby hospital. While receiving oxygen treatment, Medrano learned the unfortunate news that the patient he helped rescue had passed away.

Engineer Medrano risked his personal safety in hopes of saving others. Despite the somber outcome, he is commended for his bravery and selflessness.

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Medal of Merit - Firefighter/Paramedic Wesley Manning, FS-107 B Platoon

Wesley Manning

A simple shopping errand resulted in a heart-breaking incident that prompted Firefighter/Paramedic Wesley Manning to act heroically.

Wes Manning was off-duty, shopping for towels at his local Costco. While browsing towards the rear of the store, he heard gunshots ring out. Turmoil ensued as terrified shoppers scrambled towards emergency exits.

Wes encouraged his fellow shoppers to remain calm and quiet as he helped usher them out a nearby exit. Instead of fleeing for safety, Wes chose to stay inside the store in case someone needed help.

Manning cautiously made his way from the emergency exit through the aisles until he came upon a male lying on the ground. The man was leaning on his side while pointing the barrel of the firearm down a separate aisle.

Wes crouched behind a waist-high refrigerator unit for cover, then calmly engaged the man with the gun. Wes asked the man a series of simple questions and learned that no other shooters were present. At great personal risk, Wes proceeded to search the scene and encountered multiple victims — one deceased and two requiring immediate medical attention.

With help from a few brave Costco employees, Wes tended to the gunshot wounds of the victims. Wes remained with the victims until law enforcement and medical help arrived.

After the two conscious victims were in the hands of paramedics, Wes returned to examine the gunman for injuries while police secured the scene. After a nerve-racking 25-minute ordeal, Wes helped turn the shooter over to law enforcement without further incident.

Thanks to Firefighter/Paramedic Manning and a few courageous Costco employees, the two wounded victims survived.

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Medal of Valor - Captain II Kenneth Willahan, FS-95 B Platoon

Medal of Merit - Captain I Rob Scott, FS-95 B Platoon

Kenneth Willahan Rob Scott

CAPTAIN ROB SCOTT AND CAPTAIN KENNETH WILLAHAN are leaders and close colleagues at Fire Station 95, located near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Off-duty, they are best friends who spend family vacations together.

Captains Scott and Willahan are being recognized for their courageous acts during a recent family vacation trip to Utah. On a picturesque rafting excursion in Moab, Utah, the captains found themselves involved in a dangerous river rescue.

Their group had paused for lunch along a sandy embankment of the Colorado River, in between sets of Class II and Class III rapids. As the children played and explored along the shore, the group’s rafting guide spotted signs of trouble upriver.

In the distance, their guide spotted an upside-down kayak racing towards their position. Soon after, two individuals appeared in the water behind the kayak. The pair showed signs of distress.

The rafting guide retrieved a rescue throw bag — a whitewater safety device with a floating rope. Then, the two captains and their guide ran upriver towards the overboard kayakers. The would-be rescuers spaced themselves along the shore, hoping to deploy the throw bag in time to catch the first victim.

The distance was too great. The first kayaker was swept past them out of reach of the rescue rope. As the river carried the kayaker away, Captain Scott heard him yell out that his wife and son were in the water behind him. “My four-year-old is in the water! He can’t swim!” screamed the man.

Captain Scott shouted downriver to alert the others as a woman and small boy came barreling down the rapids. Captain Scott waded into waist-deep water, hoping he could reach them. Unfortunately, he could not. The woman and little boy rushed by, visibly struggling to stay above water.

A short distance downriver, Captain Willahan attempted to reach her. The woman extended an outstretched oar, but it was no luck. Another miss. So, without a life vest, Captain Willahan plunged into the river, swimming frantically behind the mother and child.

Captain Willahan swam to them, grabbed onto the oar, and assured them that everything would be okay. He tried to swim back to shore with one arm, but the current was too strong. The three would have to endure another section of rapids on their own.

Captain Willahan held on tightly to the mother and child as they traversed the rapids. Even though the two were wearing life vests, the frigid river was exacting its toll. The mother and child were exhausted and losing strength with every passing moment. Without a vest, Captain Willahan managed to keep them all afloat with only one free arm.

Meanwhile, Captain Scott sprinted down the riverbank back to their raft. He and the guide ushered the group back into the raft to pursue Captain Willahan. They paddled furiously to catch up, scanning the banks as they rowed.

Shortly after they cleared the rapids, a second kayak had caught up with Captain Willahan — It was the grandparents of the little boy. They had witnessed the whole ordeal while racing to catch up.

Captain Willahan heaved the child into the grandparents’ kayak. With the boy safe, Captain Willahan could focus on saving the mother. He held tightly to the side of the kayak with one arm and helped keep the woman afloat with the other.

The grandparents paddled a short distance to a safe embankment. Moments later, Captain Scott and the rest of the party arrived at the rescue scene to find the mother, boy, and Captain Willahan safely ashore.

The father of the little boy, the first of the kayakers to rush past the Captains while still on the riverbank, was rescued moments later by a group of paddleboarders.

Captain Rob Scott and Captain Kenneth Willahan successfully helped rescue a mother and her young boy at grave personal risk. Unknowingly, they also saved a third life, as it was later revealed that the mother was six months pregnant at the time of the incident. They exemplified exceptional bravery, courageous spirit, and the very best of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

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Community Impact Award - CORE

CORE: Community Organized Response Effort is the Los Angeles Fire Department’s partner with the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

In late March of 2020, Los Angeles became the first major city in the U.S. to offer free COVID testing. Responsibility for managing public COVID testing fell on the LAFD. As the strain of this unprecedented effort unfolded, CORE recognized an opportunity to assist.

Six days a week, since the onset of the pandemic, CORE’s staff and volunteers have subjected themselves to the rigors of operating public testing sites across Los Angeles. Together with the LAFD, CORE leads the frontline effort to administer thousands of daily COVID tests. In fact, CORE has administered more than 4,200,000 COVID tests in Los Angeles in partnership with LAFD.

Founded in 2010 by actor and humanitarian Sean Penn, CORE arose to help provide vital relief and recovery services in the wake of the devasting earthquake in Haiti. Not long after, their disaster relief programs expanded to Puerto Rico, other parts of the Caribbean, and the Gulf Coast of the United States.

CORE continues the scope of its testing programs in communities across the country. Modeled on the success of their unconventional LAFD partnership, CORE now operates COVID sites in six states, Washington, D.C., and Navajo Nation.

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Station of the Year Award - Station 9

Fire Engine exiting the front of LAFD Station 9

Fire Station 9 is located in downtown Los Angeles, serving the community referred to as Skid Row. Despite covering a relatively small geographical service area, Station 9 has historically ranked as one of the busiest, if not the busiest fire station in the nation.

Station 9 serves an area plagued by some of the most dangerous, sensitive, and complex challenges facing our communities. The approximately 60 firefighters at Station 9 regularly respond to everything from seizures and overdoses, to stalled elevators and commercial fires — all in an area defined by extreme poverty and homelessness.

Station 9 averages about 80 emergency calls per day. Many of the 7,000 homeless people living on Skid Row rely on these firefighters as their primary health care provider. The Station 9 crew does their best to help these patients who are often victims of crime, or crippled by addiction and psychiatric disorders from years of living on the street.

In 2019 alone, Station No. 9 logged nearly 22,800 emergency calls across just 1.28 square miles — about 7,500 more than the LAFD’s next-busiest station. Serving one of our most vulnerable communities has given those at Station 9 a unique perspective on life in Los Angeles. But rather than dwell on non-stop challenges, they serve with pride, professionalism, and a sense of family shaped by their shared commitment to one of the city’s most intense assignments.

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Corporate Impact Award - Farmers Insurance

Farmers Insurance Logo

When Farmers Insurance began its operations in 1928, its founders instilled values of service and charity throughout the organization. Nearly 100 years later, Farmers actively supports the communities where its customers, agents, and employees live, work, and play.

Farmers puts its values into action through its philanthropic support of the Los Angeles Fire Department and the LAFD Foundation. In total, Famers has contributed more than $786,000 towards technology, tools, and equipment to help keep the men and women of the LAFD safe.

The Woodland Hills-based insurance leader has also graciously sponsored LAFD community events, helped raise awareness for the Foundation’s immediate funding needs, and donated over $185,000 specifically to the LAFD’s cancer prevention efforts.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is honored to count Farmers Insurance among its most valued community partners.

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