I was born in Long Beach on December 26, 1958. We three brothers born that evening entered into the family as the younger three of five brothers to Hobert and Loretta Storey. My dad Hobert, also called Jim or Hobie on the job, was working that night at Station 3. Wanting to follow in his footsteps and make him proud, I was hired in 1982, graduating with the class of 82A. My probation year was spent at 11B and 3B. I stayed at 3B for 2 years and returned to 11B for 7 years. When I promoted to Engineer in 1991, I was stationed with the famous 2C crew, and stayed for 18 years with short breaks at 14s, 18s and 19s. A longstanding promise to X of returning to 2s if he did, enabled me to work with him for a bit near the end of my career before I retired in 2012 from 14s.
My brother Mike was also on the LBFD, hired in 1976 and retired after 30 years. My son, Richard was hired in 2014 and is currently a paramedic at 10C.
Getting ready to actually write this article has brought back a ton of memories. I only have one page, so I’ll just mention a few of the things I loved about my job as a firefighter.
I loved being a firefighter on the floor. I loved to cook at the fire station. Some of my fondest memories at station 2 revolved around cooking. We all cooked together creating fantastic meals. Mule had a tradition to always wait for the rescue to come back to break bread because we were family, and this was always adhered to. I volunteered to be a full time cook at 11B for almost 7 years due to the number of rookies that we had at the time. In addition to cooking, I loved projects at the station. We had guys asking questions and interested in building and were given opportunities to actually do some building. We disassembled a carport at the Navy yard and reassembled it at 2s. We built the famous roof prop at 2s, the patio cover and fence at 14s, and we assisted with the remodel of stations 19, 17 and 11.
Outside of the station, the Memorial Association was an organization that I loved being a part of. I enjoyed the hours spent with fellow firefighters tying fireworks for the Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at Long Beach City College’s Veterans Stadium, and shooting the fireworks off at the end of the evening. I also loved helping to prepare food for and serving all of the families that attended the annual Firefighters Picnic at Gemmrig Park.
Mercy Construction…what great memories I have of working with so many of my fellow firefighters on so many projects. Just as firefighters get called to a run, we got called to a little girl in need of a wheelchair ramp. We built it, and from that point on, we were called Mercy Construction. We did hundreds of jobs helping not only community members, but each other on the fire service, because we are family. The list of projects Mercy Construction worked on is long, including wheelchair ramps, roofs, training props, patio covers, plumbing, electrical, painting and many other projects. If someone needed help, we would be there. Everyone brought a skill. Our main goal was to give back and to help others. We were paid with a sandwich and a beer, and at the end of the day, we always made time to share stories.
I loved all of the days I spent volunteering with my dad at the Museum while on the job. I gave it up for a few years, and have returned since my son, Richard was hired and has been stationed at 10s. It’s a great group of guys to get to know and work with!
I was in charge of the SCBA program for 28 years, maintaining the bottles and mask program, training and testing the units of those both on the Fire Department and departments throughout the city. I also had the opportunity to be a part of the equipment committee, the badge program, and I was on the union board for a short time. I am proud to have been a part of the LBFD Kids organization, making wagons for the kids at Memorial Hospital. I feel so fortunate to have been able to work with all of the people involved in all these programs.
I was incredibly humbled and honored to be nominated by my peers and named Employee of the Year in 2000. Let me take this opportunity, one more time, to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone that made that happen.
Camping was such a huge and important part of my fire department life. Our families were a part of our crew. We spent many summer weeks together in the Sierras cooking, fishing, singing, storytelling, hiking and watching our kids grow up.
In retirement, I’ve been given the opportunity to sit back and put my feet up. I have more time to do the things that I love…Mercy Construction projects and occasionally finishing projects at my own home. I still love cooking, wine, working in the yard, and sharing a famous “Rick Drink” with friends. I’ve picked up golf and enjoy the walk on the course at least twice a week with friends. I am blessed to have been married to my wife Jodie for 35 years. We both enjoy spending time with friends, extended family and our kids, watching our grandchildren grow, camping, visiting Paso Robles and other California wine regions, and we still dream of owning a vineyard one day.