Memorial for Oakland firefighter who drowned in San Diego

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The Oakland Fire Department on Wednesday hosted a memorial service for firefighter-paramedic Caeden Laffan aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda.

Laeden, 25, died on June 27 while off duty and on vacation in the San Diego area. Authorities there said he drowned in the waters off Pacific Beach.

Laffan, who had been with the department for five years, was a "rising star" and "very sharp individual," Oakland fire Chief Damon Covington said after the incident.

“As a fire chief it is kind of like being a dad. You are supposed to love all your kids the same but some of them are really, really special and Caden was one of those really special people,” Covington said. “Another generation of someone who was going to serve the community of Oakland at a very, very high level who had compassion and really cared about the community.” 

Laffan was a third-generation firefighter, Covington said. His father, Sean Laffan, was an assistant fire chief who collapsed and died on the job in 2020 while Caeden was a probationary firefighter. Sean was 42.

Caeden's brother, Cooper, is currently in Oakland fire's recruit academy, and their mother is a peer support outreach specialist for the department.

“This was not just a job to him but a way of life. It made me excited to get into this profession and I was looking forward to serving the next 30 years with him,” Laffan said. “Although Caeden lived a short life, I can sleep peacefully knowing he would not change a single thing if he got the chance to do it over again. Even though he is no longer here in body, Caden’s spirit will continue to inspire us.” 

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