Paco Lomeli

KNX Hero of the Week
Thursday, October 31st
Sometimes the job becomes bigger than its description. 

Our KNX Hero of the Week is a Southern California firefighter who not only lends a hand to help his community, he also lends his heart to inspire local youth. 

A typical day for Paco Lomeli usually involves a conversation or two with the neighborhood kids. In some cases, it involves homework, or sharing books. In other cases, the conversation is about growing up in South L.A. 

"You know, they all hang out in front of the station. I'll walk out there and sit down with them and just listen to them, I'll listen to their day," says Paco. "I knew as a kid, whenever a grown-up talked with me, it was usually because I was in trouble. So, it's kind of funny now, that I sit there with these kids and they'll just talk and talk and talk." 

"I want to build that relationship with them - to not be afraid to speak with adults. To kind of foster some kind of trust," remarks Paco. 

Paco works at Los Angeles County Fire Station 16 in Watts. He's also a former United States Marine and was once stationed in Iraq. He says he wasn't the best kid growing up, but after he got into reading everything changed.

"I'll say a tribute to my success is just reading, you know," explains Paco. "And also to being kind. People being kind to me, and returning that favor. So, it's kind of what I'm trying to do here." 

Being kind is an understatement. Paco often rewards the kids for their hard work. And, for many, he's become a big brother. 

"I've been on calls and the kids are like 'Hey Paco!' And then the tension kind of drops a little bit," says Paco. "A lot of times, these lower-income areas... they're more reluctant to call us when they need us. So, knowing them and having that relationship with them brings them down, and let's them know that we're just here to help." 

He's also an inspiration within his station.

"He's a big brother for all of the firefighters here, too. A lot of the guys here, they lean on him," says fellow firefighter Tony Huynh.

Tony says Paco truly cares about the kids, and gives them much needed positivity. 

"They start being responsible, and taking ownership for their outcome, and their grades," says Tony. "I think he does make a big difference." 

Every Christmas, Paco dressed up as Santa. He and his crew members hand out gifts. 

Tony says it's just another thing that makes Paco special. "He checks on them. He remembers everyone's name. And, that's just the start of it. " 

Taking that extra step to make a big difference in a young person's life,  Firefighter Paco Lomeli is our KNX Hero of the Week!  

KNX Heroes presented by California Resources Corporation, saluting our military veterans, and all of our heroes! 

Heather Jordan, KNX 1070 News Radio.