On January 30th I opened Facebook, and saw a picture of two Battalion Chief badges with the caption, “That’s all folks!” Over the next few days, a flood of over 400 messages of congratulations, thanks, praises, memories, and gratitude were posted to acknowledge the outstanding career of Battalion Chief James Patrick Hayden. A career that should be put in context, not only for the quality of service, but as a great example of what right looks like.
Retired Fire Chief Douglas Barry, one of Hayden’s mentors stated, “I have always been impressed with Pat’s intelligence, professionalism, and his calmness under any and all situations. He is an excellent example of an outstanding firefighter and fire officer, and he is the epitome of what young aspiring firefighters should become. The LAFD will certainly miss his leadership contributions.”
This article is to bid farewell to one of LAFD’s best. Battalion Chief Hayden retired on January 30, 2021, after 33 years of service. He started the Drill Tower on November 22, 1987, and after graduating, began his career as a Firefighter at Fire Stations 98, 75,77,74,66 and 61. He then became a Firefighter/Paramedic at Fire Stations 61, 68, and 92.
Retired Assistant Chief Kwame’ Cooper was Hayden’s Captain at Fire Station 68-C in 1997. “As a Firefighter/Paramedic, Pat continuously demonstrated a level of professionalism that conveyed focus on service, delivery confidence, care for community, and leadership that reflected the core values and goals of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. To this day, my relationship with Pat continues to grow in respect, trust, and friendship with a focus on helping members of the Stentorians and other members of the Department achieve their personal professional goals. I am inspired and proud to know Pat as a personal lifelong friend.”
On November 3, 2001, just 3 weeks before his 14th anniversary on the job, Hayden promoted to the rank of Fire Captain I. He has the historic distinction of being the 100th African-American Fire Captain in the Department’s first 115-year history, which includes the period when Black Captains were only allowed to work at Fire Stations 14 and 30 during segregation. This was a rare occurrence, when the man, the moment, and his place in history were in full alignment.
His assignments as a Captain I were Fire Station 9, 63 and the Drill Tower. He then promoted to Fire Captain II and became the Drill Master. After completing two Classes as Drill Master, he returned to Fire Station 9 as the Task Force Commander, which he identifies as his favorite assignment, and of course, FS-9 was the “Busiest Station in the Nation” while he was the Station Commander.
He left Fire Station 9 to join the Planning Section staff. Some of his key accomplishments while in planning laid the foundation for the LAFD as it operates today, especially the way we use technology. He was also the primary author of Book 88 (Line of Duty Deaths).
Assistant Chief Antoine McKnight, on #100, stated, “James Patrick Hayden’s discipline, work ethic, and character propelled him to this momentous promotion. He honorably represented the 99 African-American Captains that came before him as well as every Captain who has worn the badge.”
In 2011, he promoted to Battalion Chief and was assigned to Battalion 10. While in Battalion 10, he performed double duty for nearly two years as he assisted with multiple administrative projects and a Captain I promotional program. He then transferred to the Homeland Security Alliance Training Section in 2013. His next assignment was Battalion 4, in 2014, a reward for all the years of Special Duty. Being the dedicated leader that he is, in 2017 he accepted another administrative assignment in the Fire Prevention Bureau’s Industrial and Commercial Section where he did an outstanding job of leading and empowering the uniform and civilian staff to successfully overcome long running challenges and restoring the reputation and efficiency of a very important Section of the FPB.
Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley stated, “Battalion Chief Hayden spent his last few years on the LAFD assigned to the Fire Prevention and Public Safety Bureau as the Commander of our Industrial Commercial Section. Chief Hayden proved to have an innate ability to support his people and challenge the status quo. His competence, dedication, and leadership ability moved the Fire Prevention and Public Safety Bureau to the next level. We wish him a long and happy retirement.”
Captain II Ryon Jones stated, “Chief Hayden fully supported all of the Captains and members in the Industrial and Commercial Section. He truly was a great boss and a pleasure to work for.”
Inspector II Paul Terris on behalf of the Brush Unit stated, “The Brush Unit was never discouraged from contacting Chief Hayden when a question needed answering or his advice was needed. A more involved Section Commander was never assigned to the Industrial and Commercial Section and specifically the Brush Unit. Chief Hayden was the right person at the right time. The Department is better for his service as is the Brush Unit and the Industrial and Commercial Section and the Fire Prevention Bureau.”
He is most proud of the number of people he helped to get on the Department and promote, which brings up a little-known fact. Hayden, now Assistant Chiefs Richard Fields and Orin Saunders along with Captain II Cheyene Caldwell formulated and were lead instructors for the Stentorians Captain Study program Excel II in 2012. They were instrumental in preparing a generation of Captains for successful careers as officers. He is also a “must see” person to speak with to prepare for Promotional Exam Interviews.
I, Retired Assistant Chief Roy Harvey am very grateful to have the opportunity to write this article for my friend, who I met in 1986, when he was working at Homebase while going through the hiring process for the LAFD. I am honored that he considered me among his mentors, which makes me proud to have contributed to such a stellar and impactful career. Chief Hayden had already completed his Special Duty as a Chief Officer, but he responded to the call when I asked him to come to the Fire Prevention Bureau when I needed him. Fortunately, this allowed us to work together for nearly 3 years. He has truly made the LAFD better, his professionalism and dedication are his legacy. Job well done!
Finally, I reached out to the Hayden Family for their input, and his wife and each of his children wrote a letter honoring Pat’s career. I have included excerpts from each:
“I am so incredibly proud to be called his son and I want to give a thank you for the years as a Firefighter, Captain I, Captain II, and Battalion Chief for all the years and endless dedication, thank you. Your son Roman”
“Dad always finds a way to prioritize his family and our happiness, for this I appreciate everything he has done for us all. My dad is more than just a parent or a firefighter, he is a hero. A hero that I aspire to be. Love, your son Devin”
“In his retirement, I hope to continue and learn from him, and for him to finally have a moment to relax and have others do the work for once. I love and admire my father and hope that I will one day make him as proud of me as I am of him. Love, Your Daughter, Chloe Hayden”
“Dear Hayden, I have witnessed your journey from Firefighter to Battalion Chief to now finally retired. I have seen the effort you put into your career, the long days and the even longer nights. Your dedication to your job and family has been unwavering. You have been an exceptional role-model to our children and the community. Your mentorship and leadership have been evident in the promotion of young recruits. You mean the world to me and I am excited to embark on this new chapter of life with you. Happy Retirement! Love, Your Wife, Regina Hayden”
By Roy Harvey