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March 2018 Firefighter of the Month: Captain Christopher Winn

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is an all-risk, all-hazard training program for the public. CERT is provided free of charge within the city of Los Angeles to anyone 18 or over. CERT members receive 17 1/2 hours (one day a week for seven weeks) of initial training.

Captain Chris Winn is the current LAFD CERT Commander. He is a native Angeleno and is fully committed to protect the city that he lives in and loves. Recently, at a Board of Fire Commissioners meeting, the LAFD CERT Volunteers were recognized for their countless hours of volunteer work during the 2017 Creek and Skirball brush fires. This wouldn’t have happened without the leadership and coordination of Captain Winn.

Capt. Winn’s first impression of a firefighter was at the age of 9 when a neighbor’s home went up in flames. He couldn’t believe how fast the firetruck showed up and was amazed by the firefighters at work extinguishing the flames. He made his mind up right then and there that he wanted to become a firefighter and help people when he grew up.

After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Capt. Winn enrolled at Cal State Northridge and earned his degree in Political Science and Public Administration. He also enrolled in Fire Science classes at the Santa Barbara Fire Academy and worked as a reserve firefighter for nearly six years in Culver City before being hired by the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) in 2002.

During his mandatory first year probation, he worked at fire station 75 with what he describes as a “great crew.” He remembers that first assignment was a very busy station where they knocked down large fires and were called out to many horrific car accidents, some of which stay with him to this day. “We ran day and night at that station,” recalls Captain Winn. He also was very happy that on his first four days off, his new wife went into labor and he was able to be there for the birth of his first child.

Three years ago, he was promoted to Captain and started looking for a special duty detail when then Chief Little and Capt. John Ignatczyk encouraged him to apply to CERT. A logistics background with FEMA has helped him thrive in the program where he trains, supervises and manages four instructors and the civilians who complete the CERT training. These civilians help free up fire department resources by aiding in fire patrol in their communities especially during high hazard periods like holidays. In fact, the patrolling done by his teams has made a measurable impact in the area of homeless encampment fires. Prior to his patrols in East Los Angeles, there had been seven or eight brush fires in a short period of time that have now been reduced to zero.

Making a difference in people’s lives is what continues to drive Capt. Winn. He remembers with barely controlled emotions the LAFD showing up when both his parents, first one and then the other, had critical health issues. Their compassion and empathy along with the stellar care his parents received make him very proud to be part of the organization he serves.

Captain Winn has been with the department for 15 1/2 years. He continues to do an outstanding job in his community preparedness efforts within the CERT Program, in addition to responding to large-scale emergencies and coordinating CERT Volunteers. During structure fires, brush fires, wires-down incidents, high-heat days, or adverse weather conditions, Capt. Winn deploys CERT Volunteers to provide rehabilitation, hydration, and general support. These deployments are managed by Captain Winn through his partnership with his volunteers and on-call status through Metro Fire Communications.

If you are interested in CERT training, go to:

http://www.cert-la.com to learn more about the program.