On Thursday, March 10, thirty-six of our retired and active LAFD Chief Officers gathered at Tam O’Shanter in Atwater Village to celebrate, honor and express gratitude for more than 150 combined years of dedicated service provided by our recent retirees. Retired Chiefs Gene Bednarchik, Jesse Cisneros, Mark Woolf, and Dave Spence were those honored who exuberantly reflected on their career experiences, selflessly focusing more on the heartfelt relationships they developed throughout their careers rather than their personal accomplishments.
Previously, public safety concerns, combined with the numerous challenges resulting from the recent pandemic caused our Chief Officers’ Association (COA) to responsibly suspend congregations of people for retirement celebrations until greater assurances from medical health professionals supported these endeavors. However, on a positive note, the recent turnout for our valued retirees clearly demonstrated the existence of familial relationships between both retired and active members. In fact, an interesting dynamic occurred in recent retirement celebration attendance when on the last two occasions, active-duty members outnumbered retired members. This is extremely encouraging for the future of our COA family.
During the social hour and beyond, many accounts of courage, leadership, and commitment surfaced (e.g., 1992 Civil Disturbance, 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 2003/2017 firestorms/wildland conflagrations, the recent pandemic; and more specifically, Gene Bednarchik’s contributions at Metro Fire Communications and the Los Angeles Fireman’s Relief Association; David Spence’s commitment to the Professional Standards Division and Battalion 2; Jesse Cisneros’ accomplishments as the Employee Relations Officer, Bureau Liaison Officer, and at the In-Service Training Section; and last, Mark Woolf’s devotion to the Planning Section, Emergency Operations Center, and as a Department Chaplain). These highlights represent not only a brief overview of the significant contributions of our honorees, but more importantly their loyalty and allegiance to the citizens we serve, our department, and all of our LAFD members.
We hope to share many of the same memories and camaraderie with all of our members, retired and active at our next retirement celebration.
Your COA Board