Cosumnes Fire Department Chief Michael McLaughlin was named Fire Chief of the Year by the California Fire Chiefs Association (CalChiefs).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, CalChiefs was forced to cancel its annual conference and award presentation, so McLaughlin was accorded the honor at the CalChiefs annual business meeting held in Elk Grove on Thursday.
The award, named after retired State Fire Marshal Ronny Jack Coleman, recognizes McLaughlin’s numerous contributions to the California fire service, including leadership and management, community involvement, training and education, fire prevention and public safety education, and also distinguishes him as a role model for all fire chiefs in the state.
This award comes at the close of McLaughlin’s 32-year fire service career as he plans to retire in December.
“I am humbled to be recognized as Fire Chief of the Year by my peers at the California Fire Chiefs Association. It is one of the greatest honors of my career,” said McLaughlin upon receiving the award. “I have grown up in the fire service and have had to honor of learning from many great people and fire chiefs.”
McLaughlin began his career with Contra Costa Consolidated Fire, and then served with South Lake County Fire, Lawrence Livermore Fire, and City of Merced Fire before joining the Cosumnes Community Services District in 2014. He has served as Cosumnes Fire Chief since 2017, and currently serves as Legislative Director and Legislative Task Force Chairperson for CalChiefs.
During his membership with CalChiefs, McLaughlin has played a key role in advocating for public safety in the areas of behavioral health, community paramedicine, and wildland fire. As a result of McLaughlin’s legislative efforts, Congressman Ami Bera proposed legislation to develop a national program focused on behavioral health for first responders.
In addition, McLaughlin actively participates in the Behavioral Health Committee, Sacramento Regional Fire Diversity & Equity Task Force, Joint Defense Council, and the Sacramento Regional Fire/EMS Communications Center Board of Directors to provide resources for fire responders and their families, connect underrepresented and financially disadvantaged persons to the fire service, advocate for legal rights to provide emergency medical services in Sacramento County, and to provide policy oversight to the regional Joint Powers Authority dispatch center.
“It has been a pleasure working with Chief McLaughlin over the years,” commented CalChiefs Executive Director and retired Cosumnes Fire Chief Tracey Hansen. “He will leave a legacy with his work statewide. This honor is well-deserved.”
The award was a surprise for Chief McLaughlin, who was nominated for the honor without his knowledge, and included a surprise visit from his closest relatives. “My family snuck in and I was left speechless,” said McLaughlin. “My success is due to their unwavering support of me and the work I have been called to do. I am very grateful.”
McLaughlin added, “Receiving this award around September 11 and while wildfires burn across the West is a reminder that this recognition isn’t about me – it is about our entire fire service family. It is about the members on the frontlines and the members of Cosumnes Fire who push themselves to be better every single day. We are all in this together.”
Cosumnes Community Services District serves an estimated 205,000 south Sacramento County residents in a 157-square mile area. Its award-winning parks and recreation services – including the operation of more than 90 parks – operate exclusively within the Elk Grove community. It provides fire protection and emergency medical services for the cities of Elk Grove and Galt and unincorporated areas of south Sacramento County.