Laguna Beach Fire Department captain and paramedic Joe Maxon and reserve firefighter Brent Buccola will be honored as firefighters of the year at the Firefighters and Law Enforcement Annual Appreciation Awards Dinner on Jan. 28.
Maxon was nominated by his peers for his commitment to the department, demonstrated in his leading the newly revamped reserve firefighter program and serving as academy commander for five newly hired probationary firefighters, said Department Deputy Jeff LaTendresse.
Maxon himself singled out Buccola for praise, LaTendresse said. The department’s current compliment of 10 reserve firefighters work part-time, manning two 24-hour shifts a month, but Buccola also signed up voluntarily for other department projects. “His volunteer hours are above and beyond the others,” said LaTendresse, who noted that two of five recent hires were drawn from the reserve’s ranks.
In all, seven police and fire agencies in south-county are asked by the Mission Viejo Elks Club to recommend their own standouts for honors. There are no formal criteria, LaTendresse explained.
This is Maxon’s second similar commendation. The 25-year department veteran can’t recall the reason he was singled out before. Early in his career, Maxon battled a blaze in a major disaster, the 1986 plane crash in Cerritos where scores of passengers died and an entire block was ablaze.
During his tenure in Laguna, Maxon has worked in each of the town’s four stations and trained to become a paramedic. He currently supervises South Laguna’s Station 4, a nondescript building dominated by its double-wide street-level garage bay for its two engines. Above are Spartan crew quarters, including a kitchen, dining and living room area, workout room, office and two bedrooms. Among the few creature comforts are several stuffed recliners gathered in a semi-circle around a television.
The department doesn’t stint on professional training or utilizing new gear, such as the iPad’s the paramedics will soon be using to eliminate the multiple forms now required after rendering aid. In fact, Maxon was only too willing to buy his son one of the devices for Christmas so he could tap the teen-ager for a tutorial on its operation.