Published : Thursday, August 8, 2019 | 5:13 AM
Jon Trautwein, who has been a leader in his many roles at the Pasadena Fire Department over two and a half decades, has retired from the Department and accepted a position as Fire Chief of the Sedona Fire District in Arizona.
“I have been blessed to take leadership roles at the Pasadena Fire Department,” said Trautwein, whose last position was as Deputy Chief of Operations at Pasadena Fire. “I started serving the Pasadena community more than 27 years ago. I accepted new challenges as I climbed the ladder and that’s what made it satisfying.”
Technically, Trautwein is of retirement age, as he has the required number of hours, but he’s a young retiree. When the opportunity for Chief for Sedona Fire District arose, he applied and was subsequently selected from among a nationwide pool of 62 applicants.
“I started as an auxiliary volunteer firefighter with Pasadena Fire Department when I was 29 years old,” Trautwein said. “I was hired as a full-time firefighter then they sent me to paramedics school, I was a captain, battalion chief and deputy chief. I’ve had a great career in Pasadena.”
Trautwein helped Pasadena start innovative programs within the department, said Bertral Washington, Pasadena Fire Chief.
“We are very proud of Chief Trautwein and his accomplishments over his career with the Pasadena Fire Department,” Washington said. “He served our City well, helped to implement progressive programs in the department and was well-regarded by department members. We wish him, his wife Barbara, and his entire family the best as they embark on a new journey in the fire service.”
Trautwein started as an auxiliary firefighter in 1992 and was hired full time in 1994 and rose the ranks. His fire experience also includes urban search and rescue, strike team leader, and hazardous materials fire responder. He completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and has served as the Pasadena Fire Management Association president and on the Pasadena Firefighters Association board.
Trautwein and his wife, Barbara, are parents of college students, Joshua and Jessica and they lived in Altadena. He said now that his son and daughter are in college, the transition to Arizona will be easier.
“We’re all set up in Sedona and we plan on having Christmas there with the snow falling on Red Rocks,” he said. “I think the family will enjoy that.”
Trautwein said he has always strived served the department as he has led his life.
“We try to lead by making good decisions and making sure we’re serving the community,” he said. “You can go up the chain of command but not take leadership roles, but we chose to take leadership roles, that made it more challenging but more rewarding.
“Going up the ranks I’ve had opportunities to do many things,” he said. “I feel like I’ve touched many things. I look at the experiences and the skills I’ve been able to develop. And now, I’m taking the skills that I’ve learned and transferring them over.”
He said he owes his sense of community and integrity to his dad.
“My father, Paul, is turning 85 this year and he and my mom live in Upland, where I grew up,” he said. “He was a high school teacher for many years and a varsity tennis and basketball coach. Like (UCLA) Coach John Wooden, my father believed in developing character. He taught me that you not only have to be good at what you do, but you have to have the integrity and honesty. I thank him for teaching me how to lead and to be the man I am today.”
He said another mentor was Scott Dandridge.
“Another one is Scott Dandridge, retired battalion chief from Pasadena,” he said. “Scott helped me develop my strategy and tactics operationally and he taught me a lot, I managed the apparatus and equipment programs and he taught me so I could carry on that good work.”
What does it take to be a leader today?
“It’s a lot of sacrifices, especially for my family,” he said. “My wife has been by my side the entire time. Families have to be flexible for the modern firefighter. They have to be understanding. Your kids have to understand ‘Your dad’s working on your birthday.’ They make sacrifices but the cause is serving the community and making it safe.”
In Sedona, it’s a slightly different setup, but there are some similarities to Pasadena in terms of terrain, Trautwein said.
“It’s a fire district instead of a municipality,” he said. “Sedona covers a larger area. We only have five stations compared to eight in Pasadena. It has some of the same challenges and rescues like we have here.
“It seems like a well-led, well put together district,” Trautwein said. “They’re good firefighters, they’re engaged and I think I’m going to step into a healthy environment. I’ll learn and be a part of another really good place.”
Trautwein said he has been fortunate to have served in such an honorable career.
“Fire service is a great thing and I feel very strongly about our men and women out there and what we’re doing to protect this country,” he said.