'I didn't think it would be the last time I'd see my dad:' Son of late Oakland fire chief
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Fire Department is mourning the loss of Assistant Chief Sean Laffan. He died Monday night after suffering a heart attack while at work. He was just 42 years old. He leaves behind a wife and three sons.
Caeden Laffan, a probationary firefighter with Oakland Fire Department, is the oldest of the three sons and eager to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was hoping to work alongside his father for many more years.
“It hasn’t quite set in yet, that he isn’t coming home,” said Caeden Laffan.
Caeden Laffan last saw his father, Sean, an assistant fire chief at the Oakland fire house, on Monday morning. Caeden said his father appeared healthy.
“I didn’t think twice,” said Caeden Laffan. “I didn’t think it would be the last time I would see my dad, giving him a hug and saying I love you before we do another tour at work.”
Hours later, as Caeden was about to respond to a medical call, a fire lieutenant flagged him down and alerted him his father was not well.
The 42-year-old had collapsed inside the fire department building at 5 p.m. He later died at the hospital after going into cardiac arrest.
“It was truly a shocking experience, there was no sign this would happen,” said Caeden Laffan.
Sean Laffan is a San Jose native and married his high school sweetheart. He fell in love with the Oakland Fire Department after an internship, hired on when he was 22. He commuted from Sacramento. He became an interim assistant fire chief in June.
“I knew I wanted to be an Oakland firefighter because of my dad. He inspired me the second, I got out of high school to pursue my EMT and paramedic license,” said Caeden Laffan.
For Caeden, his father was his role model. The two bonded over fighting fires and life at the fire house.
“It was the most special thing in the world, tough for that to come to an end so quick,” said Caeden Laffan.
Caeden hopes to carry on his father’s legacy and traditions and culture of the Oakland Fire Department.
“We had about 10 years we could have worked together in the fire department,” said Caeden Laffan. “It got cut short to a year but I loved every second of it that's for sure.”
Caeden was also a baseball coach to hundreds of children and hosted exchange students from China.
No word yet on funeral arrangements.