Just as an army marches on its stomach, the LA City Fire Department rolls on its wheels. However, what happens if one of those wheels gets a flat? Enter Craig Mason, LAFD Mechanic. Since 1987, Craig Mason has been an instrumental member of the LAFD, using his mechanical prowess to keep the fleet of apparatus up and running.
Robert Craig Mason was born 1958 in Bakersfield, California. At the age of ten, Craig (as he prefers to go by) and his family moved to La Mirada, California where he attended grade school and high school. While in school, he enrolled in various auto, wood, and metal classes where his mechanical skills were nurtured. As a youth, he often used his God-given talents, working on friend’s bicycles, motorcycles, and cars.
Craig’s formal mechanical training began right out of high school when he joined the United States Coast Guard. This is where he would hone his expertise in the field of engine repair. He spent six years with the Guard, both active and reserve, serving on the patrol boat, Point Evans, out of Long Beach. If the name of the boat sounds familiar, it should; it was the same boat used in the movie, OVERBOARD with Goldy Hawn and Kurt Russel. After serving his Country, Craig got his first job in civilian life working for Freightliner in Whittier, California. Craig worked hard, moving up in the ranks, and finally getting to do what he does best—working on engines.
In 1987 Craig reached his goal of working as a full-time mechanic with the LAFD. For three years he worked inside the main shops. When a position as a mobile mechanic opened up, Craig jumped at the chance. Since then, Craig has taken full advantage of his gift of fixing things. Though his days start out like most of us, doing the required paperwork and sitting in on the morning staff meetings—the rest of the day is filled with doing what he does best—working on fire apparatus.
Assigned to the areas that included Battalion 4, 9, 10, and part of 18, Craig was sent to specialized training and then introduced to the world of airport apparatus. Since then, he has kept the monstrous machines rolling down the streets of Los Angeles and the tarmac at both LAX and Van Nuys Airport. Receiving praise from his superiors and co-workers alike, Craig was named Employee of the Quarter in 1993 and Employee of the Year in 2000 and 2007.
In November of 2020, Craig will finally be retiring, allowing him to spend more time with his wife of 23 years, Charlene and step-son, Bobby. Though I’m sure apparatus operators and engineers across the City are privately shedding a tear for their loss of a skilled mechanic, all that knew Craig are grateful for the time and service he gave them.Firefighters may get most of the glory when it comes to emergency incidents, but we must never forget the people who help us get there safely. Craig, thank you for your part in saving countless lives across the City of Los Angeles. Whether you know it or not, you are a hero, deserving of all the accolades that goes with that title. From a grateful City and Department, we wish you only the best. Your skills (and moustache) will be missed!