6TH DISTRICT REPORT | TIM EDWARDS
Leadership Values at CAL FIRE Local 2881
This has been a year of transition for CAL FIRE Local 2881. The leadership at the top changed without any negative impacts to the membership as the presidents collaborated with the executive board to handle the new faces and the bold ideas being proposed.
PRESIDENT MIKE LOPEZ
The legacy of Mike Lopez as a member of CAL FIRE Local 2881 is the story of our union over the past three decades. Mike comes from a union family, and he joined Local 2881 on the same day that he was hired as a firefighter. Over the next three decades, his involvement in the union would change the lives of his brothers and sisters in small ways – active service at the local level – and in a profound manner – as the President of Local 2881 for ten years.
Mike is now part of the leadership team of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF). The broader community of firefighters will benefit greatly from his innate decency, love of his profession, deep caring for his peers, and the intelligent manner with which he does his job.
PRESIDENT CLIFF ALLEN
Cliff made his bones fighting fires from a helicopter. A tough guy, he got involved with union activities because he thought the same cooperative efforts in the field should be reflected when we are battling for wages, benefits and conditions.
Cliff took over as President of Local 2881 on the departure of Mike Lopez. He led the battle for increased disability benefits and was the lynchpin when working directly with the governor’s office to re-instate firefighters who were unfairly dismissed.
The work he did on behalf of firefighters was done with a backdrop of two grandchildren being born prematurely and fighting for a strong start in life. Cliff finished Mike’s term and retired to Washington to be close to his family.
PRESIDENT TIM EDWARDS
Tim was elected in January to lead CAL FIRE Local 2881 into the future. He distinguished himself as a firefighter in the Riverside region and has a reputation for courage and commitment. In his first action as the new president, Tim sat down for a quiet conversation with the new Governor and discussed ideas for his statewide fire department to have a more comprehensive approach to battling the impacts of the "New Normal."
Tim is pleased Governor Newsom has already shown a genuine regard for the needs incumbent with public safety. The 2019 Budget includes more engines, increased personnel, enhanced infrastructure, and funds earmarked for the mental health of firefighters who are confronted with challenges that can’t be put aside when the task is completed.
The world is very different than what it was just a couple of years ago. Consider that 2017 was the most devastating fire season in California history, until it was overtaken by the conflagrations of 2018. Although 2018 saw fewer fires, the number of acres burned increased by more than 70%. Entire communities were destroyed and, as Tim mentioned in his first speech as president, more than 60 CAL FIRE firefighters lost their homes.
Tim intends to be an activist president. The fires that burn with such ferocity in California have to be beaten back by someone. He understands that while 21st Century technology helps us do our job, the simple fact remains that fires are ultimately defeated by boots on the ground. President Edwards accepts the challenges, but he also believes it is the job of the union to make sure our men and women work hours that are reasonable and they are not separated from their families for months.
The CPF has always been a vibrant voice because we have been lucky enough, or careful enough, to have dynamic leadership. The presidents who have led CPF are responsible for the professional firefighters having a highly-credible voice in policy discussions at every level.
The new team of Brian Rice and Mike Lopez are part of that same mold. They have already become credible partners with the new administration on issues of importance, and we look forward to working with them as we move forward as a profession.