Local Orange County firefighter goes beyond the line of duty
Fighting fires, saving lives and helping his community are only some of the things this OC father does. Gabriel Flores is a firefighter and paramedic with the Orange County Fire Authority, as well as the president of the Orange County Bomberos non-profit organization. While I was conducting the interview with Flores via Zoom, I couldn’t help but feel welcomed by him.
His children make a cameo appearance in his interview but he quickly and playfully corrals them away and apologizes for the interruption. After we thought all interruptions had ceased, Flores’ long-time friend, crew member and treasurer of the OCB non-profit, Andrew Robles, was called to duty by the siren.
I was finally left with Flores himself. With no further interruptions and the added insurance that it is his off day, I was finally able to ask my first question: “What possesses you to go above and beyond and be the head chair of a non-profit org while being an active firefighter/paramedic?”
“I knew when I got hired I wanted to help out,” said Flores. “When I was in the position they’re in, I knew I wanted help, so I decided to help. The fire service is hard to navigate so I wanted to create a path to help those pursuing the fire service.”
His answer was simple and sweet, showing his care and love for the community and future fire service. He showed that he was a leader in just a few short breaths. When thinking about all that he does, I couldn’t help but think how inspiring he is.
I also wondered about who the inspiration was for what he does. So, I asked who inspired him to be a firefighter, “When I got out of high school, I didn’t know what to do.” Flores said. “My cousin was always taking fire tech classes and I always looked up to him, so I ended up taking fire tech classes and eventually falling in love with the classes and the fire service itself and what it had to offer.”
Flores continued his journey in the fighting community by serving five years with the United States Forest Service on a Type 2 Handcrew (Crew 77) and a Type 3 Engine out of the Angeles National Forest. He has also been with Orange County Fire Authority for ten years, with three years on hand crew and seven years and counting as a firefighter and paramedic. If that resume isn’t impressive enough already, he has also served as an instructor at the Rio Hondo Fire Academy for over ten years.
Flores has served in several other instructor positions, such as Basic Fire Academy instructor, Wildland Academy instructor, EMT instructor, firefighter fitness instructor and Physical Agility (Biddle) proctor.
With all his years in the firefighting community as a service member and instructor, one would think that he would be satisfied with all that he’s done, but he still insists to do more for his community in and out of the firefighting community, which is how OCB came about.
“The idea was started a couple of years ago with Andrew but we didn’t know much else but the idea itself,” said Flores. “Sometime later we ended up drawing up some logo ideas that got a lot of love from the community, so we decided to use the positive attention from the logo to push the idea out.”
OCB is broken into three sections: scholarships, community outreach, and donations. Last year they raised $10,000 at a cornhole event at Santa Fe Fire Academy. They gave $6,000 to the academy itself and $1,500 to four individual students.
“This year we’re working with Saddleback College to give scholarships,” said Flores. “We know a lot of people at that age page don’t know what the fire service has to offer so we want to give that knowledge to the community.”
Flores hopes to have OCB implement a mentor program with local Orange County firefighters. The program will be more or less like a big brother or big sister program. With the history of how Gabriel Flores moves in the fire community, only time will tell what he and the Orange County Bomberos organization will do for the community in the future.
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