If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “All good things are circular,” Engineer Michael “Mike” Flores’ story is one that truly shows a full circle. A native Angeleno, Mike’s story with the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) started as a young boy when he saw members from Fire Station 16 race by his family’s house in El Sereno on their way to calls. “Yes, I really was one of those kids that would run to a window at the front of the house to see them go by,” Mike admits with a grin.
Wanting to join the LAFD in any way he could, with the future goal of becoming a firefighter, Mike became an Explorer at Fire Station 2 in 1987. Growing up with a father who was a diesel mechanic, it’s no surprise Mike also became passionate in this field after spending each summer at his father’s shop tinkering with parts. Two years after joining the Explorer program, his next step into the department was becoming a Student Worker in the LAFD’s Supply and Maintenance Division. This led to Mike serving in the division’s test pit where he worked with the division’s Engineer on all types of equipment in the LAFD’s fleet; both ensuring their safety and investigating changes to improve their services.
In September of 1998, Mike finally achieved his goal of becoming a firefighter when he successfully completed his training. As he went on to work at Stations 94 and 6, he promoted to Engineer in December of 2003 and eventually got a call to return to the test pit as its Engineer – the uniformed position he had served under as a Student Worker some 14 years ago. During his time there, Mike became involved with apparatus specifications, which he is still passionately involved with today.
Moving from the test pit to Fire Stations 73, 104 and occasionally 51, Mike became interested in Station 80, located at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), when the Engineer he worked with as a Student Worker sparked his interest in becoming a certified Aircraft Rescue Firefighter (ARFF). “The learning curve for the ARFF stuff, that was my biggest challenge to coming over here,” Mike admits. “You basically train to work on a horizontal high-rise that can fly.”
He took on the challenge of becoming ARFF certified, and moved to Station 80 in 2016 when it received two more fire engines, bringing the fleet’s total to six. It should be noted, even before coming to Station 80, Mike was instrumental in the procurement of the six ARFF-tailored fire engines that he currently works on today (see photo above). Over the past two years at Station 80, Mike has taken on roles outside of his normal duties that include: updating of the ARFF manual, teaching driver-operator classes, serving on two National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) committees, and continuing to assist the shops where his story began.
Happily married and currently living in Chatsworth, Mike has been with the LAFD for 19 years and looks forward to continuing his service in the department as one of the very members he grew up watching race past his house in El Sereno.