How Sacramento’s youngest ‘Ghostbuster’ got his custom-made firefighter helmet shield

A Make-A-Wish recipient became Sacramento’s official Ghostbuster on Monday, Oct. 22. London, 5, spent his morning fighting ghosts, riding in a “Ghostbuster” vehicle and saving citizens throughout the city.

Despite being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and enduring multiple surgeries, London has remained in high spirits in part because of his love of the original “Ghostbusters” movie, his family said.

London usually saves family members from ghosts in a park near their home, but with the help of the Sacramento Fire Department, Police Department, City officials, volunteers and Sony Pictures, London’s ghost-fighting adventures grew to a much larger scale.

At the end of his journey through Sacramento — which started at Fire Department Station 5 on Broadway and took him into the Old Sacramento Watgerfront —  London was recognized for his bravery and received a personalized leather helmet shield, hand-made by San Francisco firefighter Ignacio Rubio.

Rubio said when he heard about London’s wish to become an official Ghostbuster, he jumped at the opportunity to make him something special, volunteering his time and expertise.

City Express recently spoke with Rubio, who also operates a company called Smoked Leather, about his work for London’s “Ghostbuster”-themed Make-A-Wish event:

Q: What is the process of making a leather helmet shield?

A: Being that everything we make is carved and tooled by hand, it is quite a long process which usually takes up to 8 weeks to complete, depending on current order amounts. Most fire helmet shield makers use laser machines and stamps, but I prefer to stick to traditional methods of hand carving with 1/4 inch blades, that is somewhat of a lost art nowadays.

Q: You mentioned your work usually takes up to 8 weeks. However, you finished London’s in five days. How did you do it, and how did you feel while making it?

A: When (Sacramento Fire Department) emailed me explaining (London’s) situation, without hesitation I wrote back and took on the task. Working around the current orders we have plus a few late nights, my cousin Ivan Rubio, who does the paintwork, and I were able to complete the shield just in time for the event.

Events like this are a shining example of the best in humanity, a community all contributing skilled effort and time from our busy lives to support the best day in young London’s life. All of us here at Smoked Leather feel that we should’ve been standing in line for a chance at this opportunity so we’re extremely grateful to (Sacramento Fire Department) for considering us for the job directly. By far one of our best pieces of art constructed.

Q: Are there any other comments you have about your business, firefighters, or the Make-A-Wish event?

A: Firefighters are truly a different breed of person, an absolutely selfless individual who will be there for you on the worse day of your life no questions asked. There’s no wonder why the Sacramento Fire Department is pulling out the stops in this event to help create London’s wish come true. I commend every single one of them and all other organizations who have taken part. Seeing little London smile will be the reason we all stepped our best foot forward.

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