Emotional procession for Oakland assistant fire chief

On Wednesday, a somber procession was held for Oakland Assistant Fire Chief Sean Laffan who died of a heart attack earlier this week. Firefighters escorted the 42-year-old’s body from the Summit Medical Center to the Chapel of the Chimes funeral home in Oakland.

Oakland firefighters saluted one of their own as Laffan’s flag-draped casket left the hospital. Dozens of police motorcycles and fire engines helped escort his body. The procession passed City Hall and several fire stations ending at the funeral home, where an American flag was hoisted by ladder trucks.

Laffan, just 42 years old, died Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

“I was hopeful,” said Interim Fire Chief Melinda Drayton. “Getting the news five hours later that he had passed away when the cardiologist came out to speak to the family and myself it was pretty knee buckling. We are struggling, coping and grieving.”

Chief Drayton knew Laffan his entire 20-year career with Oakland Fire.

“He turned to me early in his career when he made the decision to promote,” said Chief Drayton.

It was decision made out of love and passion for the fire service and Oakland. Last June, he was promoted to interim assistant chief.

Chief Drayton said what she'll remember most, besides Laffan’s Shrek-like hands, his quick-thinking, bold laughter and community involvement.

She also remembers how proud Laffan was when his oldest son 21-year-old Caeden became a firefighter.

“Especially knowing that Caeden wanted to follow in his footsteps in Oakland was a bright shining moment,” said Chief Drayton.

As the department grieves the loss of Sean Laffan, their focus is on Caeden with one year on the job.

Laffan also leaves behind a wife of 20 years and two other sons age 19 and 20, one of whom is about to graduate from the fire academy.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a statement, “Our hearts are with his family and friends tonight as we continue to honor and celebrate Sean's selflessness, his bravery and his dedication to serving the people of Oakland.”

Chief Drayton said limiting the amount of attendees for a memorial service will be tough given how many people respected Laffan.