Longtimer firefighters named Los Angeles Firefighters Association’s 2020 “Firefighter of the Year”
By Staff Writer
Captain II Tommy Kitahata of LAFD Station 69 in Pacific Palisades has been named the Los Angeles Firefighters Association’s 2020 “Firefighter of the Year”.
“With 33 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Los Angeles, Captain II Tommy Kitahata is a true public servant both on duty and off. His selection as the 2020 Firefighter of the Year is well earned and well deserved,” the LAFD said in an announcement.
Captain Kitahata’s current assignment is Fire Station 69 in Palisades, however, due to the pandemic he is detailed to help lead the department’s battle against COVID-19 in the Logistics Unit.
Joining the LAFD in 1988, Kitahata quickly proved himself to be a reliable and hard-working firefighter. He pursued the technical skills required to gain certification for the Urban Search and Rescue, California Task Force One and deployed to numerous disasters across the country during his career. He is one of the few remaining active LAFD members who went to 9/11 as part of the massive FEMA response.
His technical expertise and natural ease as a teacher shined in his time spent with the In-Service Training section and as a Drill Master in Recruit Training. He continues to serve as an instructor and subject matter expert across both search and rescue and firefighter skills.
“Most importantly, he never asks of others what he is not willing to do himself – always the first to jump on a task,” the Department added. “This selflessness extends beyond the Department, into his community. He is the first to join work parties organized to help fellow firefighters and assist in funerals honoring our fallen members.”
His leadership is valued by his community through his roles as an Assistant Scout Master (Boy Scouts of America), feeding homeless through his church and helping his neighbors during the 2018 wildfires. His passion for serving his community was instrumental in the successful opening of the Meadow Arts and Technology Elementary school with those efforts being recognized and honored with the California Charter School Volunteer of the Year award, shared with his wife Cheryl.