CPF District 5 represents federal firefighters across the state of California.

Photo: Craig Rose

Why We Serve

In our profession, we use words and phrases like honor, respect, courage, dedication, brother and sister.

When we are elected to union office, we also use words and phrases like solidarity, dutifully abide, promote unity and harmony, promise and swear. These are powerful words with profound and potent meanings. They are the foundation of the great legacies of the leaders who have come before you. These leaders had vision, tenacity, and willpower in the face of great challenges and fortitude to provide the opportunities and benefits many of us take for granted today. 

Each of us who has raised their right hand and sworn and affirmed the oath of office have inherited these rights and responsibilities. 

As we take these oaths, we’re often not fully aware of the personal and professional sacrifices that will come with this honor. The role requires emotional, physical, departmental, and most importantly, the support of our families. Some aren’t able to maintain union roles for long. Those of us that do remain are truly fortunate. 

We are fortunate for the opportunity to serve our members, to use our years of experience, knowledge and learned abilities on their behalf. For many of us, leadership is a calling, one that often requires we put everything aside to right wrongs, secure fair wages hours and working conditions, and work for the safety of our members and the public. 

This calling centers on the unifying principle of the union movement: in solidarity, there is strength. “We will stand by our friends and administer a stinging rebuke to men or parties who are either indifferent, negligent, or hostile,” said legendary trade union leader Samuel Gompers, “and, wherever opportunity affords, to secure the election of intelligent, honest, earnest trade unionists, with clear, unblemished, paid-up union cards in their possession.”

Never have Brother Gompers’ words echoed more loudly than we do right now. Our ability to thrive as firefighters and union members depends on all those who stand with us, and beside us, and actively engage in the goals and ambitions set forth by our members and our leaders. 

I cannot be prouder of the accomplishments of the California Professional Firefighters. In my 15-year tenure on the board, our accomplishments, not just as a board but as a body, are many, our track record proven and our reputation is well known as the gold standard for ALL of labor in California. 

I am humbled to have been mentored and befriended by giants of the labor movement. Our very own Dan Terry, whose legacy has set the example for what all state associations should strive to be. Dallas Jones, who helped lay the cornerstone of our foundation that is the CPF. Kenny Harrell, 5th District Emeritus who taught me to always do the right thing for our members and to look dapper while doing it! 

Our current leaders, notably President Lou Paulson and Secretary-Treasurer Lew Stone are proud and powerful modern-day bearers of this legacy. I’m honored to have stood alongside President Paulson, who has stood up for the members of our district and allowed them to thrive. He has never wavered from a commitment to fair and equitable treatment for our federal firefighters … indeed for every member, affiliate and district. Secretary-Treasurer Stone has been a friend, mentor and confidant to myself and members of our district, ensuring new secretaries and treasurers have the skills and abilities to navigate their new-found positions, as well as defending and advocating on behalf of our members facing disciplinary issues and challenges to proven fire-based paramedicine.

Four decades of committed, principled leadership that has provided much for our firefighters.

So what does all of this mean? GET INVOLVED. NOW. 

For well over 28 years I have dedicated my life to this union. I was taught early by my father (Local 1230-ret.) to get involved. I was shown the way by countless friends and labor leaders all whom took the time to offer advice, answer my questions and afford me the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time. I watched, listened, took mental notes and most importantly I STAYED INVOLVED. 

Nothing is easy. Like many of you, I missed birthdays, school functions and other important life events most of us take for granted … not just because I was on the fire lines but because I STAYED INVOLVED. 

Unlike other labor organizations, your union leaders are right there in the firehouse. To the man, the leaders that have inspired us have skipped those promotion opportunities, awards and accolades and set aside personal ambition (and that shiny gold badge) because the cause was greater than the person. They STAYED INVOLVED.

I firmly believe that the California Professional Firefighters will continue to be the pinnacle of organized labor. I’m proud of all we’ve done to further the rights and benefits of our members and their families, and excited about the possibilities ahead. I’m honored to be fortunate enough to serve these leaders and this organization. Rest assured, we’ll continue to be strong, so long as we all STAYED INVOLVED.