LOS ANGELES — As its members return from the fire lines, the Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union launched this week what may be a first among its peers, a charity foundation devoted to helping support families “in time of crisis,” fund training and provide equipment to needy departments across the state.

“Finally we will have a way of directing funds to California firefighters and the departments they serve on a consistent, organized basis,” explained Pat Engel, battalion chief of Los Angeles City Fire and a director of the LAFCU board.

The “Fire Family Foundation,” said Engel, will provide what no other entity in California does, a framework for the public to support firefighters and their families “in times of need and provide much needed equipment to small or underfunded departments.”

The foundation is being structured so that 100% of donations will pass through to beneficiaries, said Michael Mastro, president/CEO of the $790 million CU that has 24,000 professional members across the state.

“Firefighters go into life or death situations as a daily routine and become a family and so it is our mission to support our family as a core business,” said Mastro noting that during the last two weeks “our firemen fought some of the most incredibly challenging and complex fires in history.”