Nov. 13, 2014
Joshua Wilson | Staff Writer
What was supposed to be a normal day for the Riverside Fire Department became a day that changed the organization forever on Nov. 5, 2005. That day, the Riverside Fire Department received one of its most crushing blows as they lost a dear brother.
Fire Engine 3 had been dispatched to a fire at an abandoned home near La Sierra Avenue. After battling the blaze, Firefighter Eduardo “T-Rex” Teran mentioned he felt “overheated” and needed a moment to cool down.
As he proceeded to remove his gear and walk back to the truck, Teran collapsed and was later rushed to Kaiser Hospital after going into full cardiac arrest.
About 150 firefighters, family members and friends rushed over to Kaiser to find out Teran’s condition.
Long efforts to revive Teran had become unsuccessful. Highlighted radio traffic between busy fire stations became deflated and somber as news of the death of Teran came through the transmissions.
This had been the first line of duty loss in the department’s 125 year history.
“It was just the strangest thing,” said Richard Cabrera, fire engineer and close friend of Teran. “It was just so shocking. We just couldn’t believe it.”
Every year since Teran’s passing, several firefighters from the Riverside Fire Department, as well as family members and other firefighters who knew him gather at his grave site. This year over thirty firefighters, family and friends gathered together to remember him.
Cabrera recalls Eduardo Teran as “the glue that held the department together.” Cabrera described him as a cheerful, charismatic person who took great pride in Firefighting.
“He was just a great guy,” Cabrera said.
He recalls a story where they responded to a call together and Teran was up on the roof ventilating the fire by cutting holes into the roof, a technique he had brought to the Riverside Fire Department.
“If you heard the chainsaw on the roof and you knew he was working there, you thought—okay,” Cabrera said. “He’s gonna do his thing, and you knew things were going to be alright. You weren’t worried.”
Teran’s team remembers him as a person who kept everyone in high spirits during their urban search and rescue mission for Hurricane Katrina. He always knew how to make light of a bad situation, according to his colleagues.
Teran was widely known for his esprit de corps. He took great pride in being a firefighter and its traditions, which served as an example for rookie firefighters, seasoned colleagues and superiors alike. He decorated the department with various photos and artifacts which were symbolic to the roots, values and traditions of firefighting.
Teran often sold shirts, signs and other memorabilia representing the fire department he and his fellow firefighters proudly served. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he raised approximately $265,000 in sales which he personally delivered to help families affected by the attacks.
Teran was known to other firefighters as an informal leader, ready to take charge whenever necessary.
“You always knew when Ed would tell you ‘I got it,’ it was done,” Hernandez said.
Teran took it upon himself to look after and train newly recruited firefighters. When asked what was the fondest memory of Teran, almost every firefighter in the Riverside Fire Department begins telling the story of how he trained the new probationary firefighters.
With a cigar in his mouth and in all of his equipment, Teran would train incoming firefighters with a fierce and intimidating demeanor that resonated with the new trainees.
His stern approach to training kept the firefighters motivated and focused during training. He was known to outline the training firefighters bodies with chalk whenever an unsafe measures is performed during training as a reminder that complacency can cost lives.
In the same manner he extended his hand in assistance to those same individuals whenever possible.
Nine years later, the memory and legacy that Teran leaves behind is still very much alive within the department, although much has changed since his passing. He has changed the lives of many firefighters and their families, as well as the lives of members of the community.
His memory remains in with the many lives he impacted and is still celebrated today, and because of his dedication to service and compassion to his fellow man, he will continue to be celebrated years to come.