Caeden Laffan: Funeral for Oakland firefighter who drowned in San Diego

Funeral services were held Wednesday at the USS Hornet in Alameda for a 25-year-old Oakland firefighter who drowned in San Diego.

A giant American flag between two Oakland ladder trucks greeted those who came to the museum for a final sendoff.

A procession escorted Laffan's casket from Chapel of the Chimes funeral home in Oakland, through downtown and to Alameda. 

Firefighters from other agencies helped staff Oakland fire stations to allow their brothers and sisters to grieve.

Caeden Laffan died June 27 when he went into the ocean about 2 a.m. on the north side of the Pacific Pier south of La Jolla.

Laffan had been in town for the California Firefighter Summer Games.

Laffan was the oldest of three brothers. 

After working with the Stockton Fire Department, he proudly followed his dad Sean into the Oakland Fire Department in 2019.

"When the opportunity to work in Oakland presented itself, his excitement to work with our dad won over everything else," Cooper Laffan said. 

Tragically, their father, who was Oakland's assistant fire chief, died of a heart attack while on duty in 2020. Caeden Laffan spoke at his funeral.

During that interview, Caeden Laffan, the oldest of three sons, said he had wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and had been hoping to work alongside him for many more years.

"We had about 10 years we could have worked together in the fire department," Caeden Laffan said at the time. "It got cut short to a year, but I loved every second of it. That's for sure."

Firefighting is a legacy in the Laffan family. 

Caeden's maternal grandfather also served as a firefighter, and his younger brother, Cooper, is in the fire academy now, inspired by Caeden.

Cooper told mourners Wednesday his fallen brother had been "proudly serving the community, facing danger head-on, not for personal glory, but out of a deep sense of duty to protect and serve."

He added, "He led from the front, and he was always patient with me, even when I gave him no reason to be."

He concluded by saying, "Goodbye, Caeden. Thank you for being our protector, our guiding light and our big brother. I love you."

Michael Silva, a San Diego firefighter, is Caeden's godfather.

"Connor and Cooper, your brother Caeden can never be replaced. If you look around, you'll see over a hundred people who will support you and have your back, like a brother," Silva said.

Oakland Fire Chief Damon Covington says he watched Caeden grow up in the firehouse. 

"Caedan was exactly what we want in a firefighter, someone who values public service above themselves," the chief said. "He really was one of our up-and-coming future stars in the department, and someone we had really big plans for, so it's a huge loss for us." 

Oakland Police Chief Floyd Mitchell and Mayor Sheng Thao were among those who paid their respects. 

At the end of the service, final bells were rung, as part of a ceremony steeped in tradition.

To the strains of Amazing Grace by bagpipers, his casket was removed from the USS Hornet. Many firefighters wiped their eyes.

Henry Lee is a KTVU reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and