LOS ANGELES --
Los Angeles city firefighter Brent Lovrien was remembered today as a hero and inspiration during funeral services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Lovrien, 35, was killed March 26 in a freak explosion near LAX apparently caused by a faulty electrical cable. He is the first firefighter to die in the line of duty since 2004.
Lovrien, known affectionately as "Lovey" around the fire station, was a 10-year department veteran. Before joining the LAFD, he spent three years as a federal firefighter on Terminal Island. He was divorced with no children.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Lovrien a hero.
"For 10 years, he lived to wake up every morning and put on his uniform," he said. "Not for glory or praise, it wasn't his style. Brent Lovrien lived for what his uniform showed of his heart -- the willingness to run into danger, to respond when the alarm sounds, to put your own hopes and goals for the future on hold, to protect a stranger."
"Heroism comes from the heart," he added. "It was alive in Brent Lovrien and it is in every member of the Los Angeles Fire Department."
Fire Capt. Armando Hogan, who knew Lovrien, said he was an inspiration.
"He's going to be severely missed," Hogan said. "I had the great fortune to work with Brent. He was a hard worker, and always upbeat, somebody who wanted to be the best he could be. He inspired a lot of people."
The fire chief told the crowd that firefighters face unspoken dangers every day, but that that knowledge does not make the loss of Lovrien any easier for his friends or colleagues.
"We know that on any day, and on any incident, we may be called upon to give our all and make the ultimate sacrifice. Rarely do we talk about it, or even think about the dangers, but we all know that it's there," Barry said "Brent knew and accepted the risks and dangers of being a firefighter, yet he went about doing his job without hesitation and that was because of his love and dedication to helping and protecting others. He exemplified what being a firefighter is and recognized, as I hope we all do, that the public is dependent upon its firefighters to protect them and to keep them safe."
Lovrien was cutting into an electrical panel at the Water and Power Community Credit Union at 8800 S. Sepulveda Blvd. when he was killed in a blast that may have been triggered by his circular saw.
Department of Water and Power officials said combustible gases may have been emitted by an electrical line that shorted out nearby, triggering an explosion in an underground vault that blew manhole covers into the air.
LAFD Battalion Chief John Miller said the explosion was the result of a high-voltage line burning off its insulation and forming a combustible gas.
"This combustible smoke accumulated in the confined area of the electrical room," he said. "When firefighter Lovrien attempted to enter the room to investigate the source of the smoke, the spark that was generated when the composite blade of his rotary saw struck the metal locking mechanism on the door (caused) the explosive vapors to ignite."
A colleague, Anthony Guzman, 48, suffered facial trauma and some fractures, according to fire officials, but he is expected to make a full recovery.
The explosion that killed Lovrien highlighted the need to upgrade the city's deteriorating infrastructure. On Wednesday, the City Council tentatively approved utility rate hikes to pay for upgrades.
Services were preceded by a procession of city and fire personnel from City Hall to the cathedral. After the memorial, a reception will be held at the LAFD's Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center, followed by a family funeral at 1 p.m. at Calvary Chapel Downey.
Lovrien will be buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.
The Los Angeles Firemen's Credit Union has established a memorial fund for Lovrien's family. Donations can be made at five Water and Power Community Credit Union locations throughout the Southland.