Home Contra Costa County Updated: Moraga-Orinda Fire Lowers Flags and Issues Internal Apology

Updated: Moraga-Orinda Fire Lowers Flags and Issues Internal Apology

by ECT

Update: I received word this morning that the flags have now been lowered and the flag issue has been corrected. My sources are also telling me that a formal letter of apology (internal only) to the firefighters has been sent out. It is still unknown whether or not a formal policy change has occurred, but I applaud the District for doing the right thing in correcting a wrong that occurred.

Original Story: Fire Chief Orders Firefighters Not to Lower Flags to Half Staff

I recieved some disturbing news this morning from firefighters out of Moraga-Orinda Fire that they were ordered not to lower their flags in honor of fallen California Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom.

According to my source,  minutes after the County Fire Dispatch Center put out over the radio to all stations to lower flags to half staff in honor of fallen CHP Officer Youngstrom, firefighters at Moraga – Orinda Fire were ordered NOT to lower their flags by the District Fire Chief Randall Bradley.

According to those close to the situation, his policy is the flags will not be lowered unless its a presidential order even though Governor Brown’s office announced yesterday Capitol flags will be flow at half-staff.

While all other fire stations and police stations across the State have lowered their flags to honor this hero, MOFD firefighters were not able to show their respect, due to the decision of the Fire Chief. This same type of behavior that occurred when ECCFPD lost firefighter Willie West to occupational cancer  in which flags were ordered back up after they had been lowered.

The firefighter, I spoke with yesterday (who asked to remain anonymous), stated he could not address why the Chief made this decision. He refereed me directly to the Fire Chief and/or his Executive Assistant for further explanation.

I would encourage you to write Chief Bradley and let him know that this disrespectful behavior will no longer be tolerated anymore. You can email him at Rbradley@mofd.org

This blatant disrespect to any public safety officer and firefighter is grounds for dismissal. He either needs to change this policy going forward while issue a public apology or be prepared for a pink slip.


I have now received an email from Chief Bradley after I reached out to him disagreeing with this policy as its disrespectful to public safety and firefighters. The chief says he is out of the country had nothing to do with the decision to lower the flag; my email to him was the first he had heard of it.

 “I can say that the policy was in place prior to my arrival and it was developed as part of a labor management policy development process.  Flag protocols are extremely controversial and each policy will defend someone or some organization,” said Chief Bradley.

After some foul language, he accused me of being played by some disgruntled union member.

Okay fine… but it still doesn’t change the fact a flag has been lowered twice and raised on his watch.

The fact of the matter is… when Willy died the MOFD firefighters were told by administration to raise the flag. It happened again yesterday. If in fact there was a flag protocol problem months ago at the very least should have been corrected by the fire chief.

The fact that he is trying to pass the buck onto the last guy is ridiculous. Is he not ultimately responsible for the actions of his administration and BC’s? This was not a negotiated item; it was part of the OAG’s (Official Action Guidelines) and has nothing to do with labor management.

It is a District Guideline that can be changed at any time by the Fire Chief.

So ask yourself, if there was a problem shouldn’t he have changed it?

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Cha-Cha-Cha Sep 7, 2012 - 1:23 pm

When I tried to send a response it would not allow my message to be sent to Bradley. I am so disappointed and ashamed of the decision. This man gave his life, in the line of duty.

Griff Sep 7, 2012 - 1:33 pm

This really saddens beyond words. According to this policy, he wouldn’t even lower it for one of his own. District office # (925) 258-4599 or info@mofd.org

Manny Oliver Sep 7, 2012 - 1:38 pm

This can’t be right, I don’t believe it.

JimSimmons42 Sep 7, 2012 - 1:40 pm

This is almost unbelievable. I think a resignation is in order! I hope the firefighters ignore the order and lower the flag anyway in honor of a fallen officer. Is this something the Board of Supervisors could ask for a review on?

Chuck Varnado Sep 7, 2012 - 2:52 pm

Holy Makeral Vern, you mean a fire fighter can be a douche bag? Thanks for being fair Mike. I do believe this is the first negative post i have seen you make about a member of any fire department.. I told you long ago, to save the fire deparments by chopping the heads, not the feet and you laughed at me……. This Chief should be ashamed!

JigsUp Sep 7, 2012 - 3:26 pm

Wow, did this guy skip customer service and PR classes on the way to his position?

Vince Wells Sep 7, 2012 - 6:07 pm


As you know, our Local represents Moraga Orinda Fire District. I was not made aware of this situation. I am not sure where this information came from, but do feel confident that a phone call to the Chief or his representative could have resolved this problem. Chief Bradley has always been reasonable about these types of issues, so it would suprise me if would could not discuss reach a resolution if this was his position. When it comes to flag protocol it can be challenging sometimes depending on the situation. We deal with this on a regular basis when we do funerals or memorials for our fallen members. How they die and when, makes a difference as to what protocols are followed. In this case, it is hands down that the flag should be at half staff at all police and fire stations in the state.
I served in the military and now as a fire fighter I take the flag protocol very seriously. I have not spoken with Chief Bradley but would be surprised if he would not be willing to lower the flag based on a policy in this case. I was never made aware of this being a problem during the Willie West funeral either. Again,I believe this matter could of been handled in house and am disappointed that this incident has been brought out via this blog.
I am not defending the accusations if they are true, but know Randy well enough to offer him the benefit of the doubt until we do have a chance to talk in order to get the facts.

Julio-Antioch Sep 7, 2012 - 7:00 pm

Mr Wells, You are aware the Chief was swearing at Mike? Personally, I’m glad it was brought up on this blog. The taxpayers should know the arrogant attitude taken.

BW Sep 7, 2012 - 8:15 pm

Mr. Wells, hitch your wagon to a guy like Burke and expect this. I suggest you find better spokesmen.

Classy move Burke! Make news -not report it – on a fallen hero. Par for the course for a name calling, bomb throwing, award wining ‘journalist’ I guess. You need an editor.

And Julio, we really don’t know anything other than Buke’s account of his call with the Chief. Possible that there is another side to the story.

I suggest Burke issue an apology and remove his ‘story’ from his blog.

Let us pray for Officer Youngstrom and his family.


burkforoakley Sep 7, 2012 - 9:00 pm

With all due respect, I did not seek out this story, it came to me from multiple firefighters from the District who were offended at the policy since they have friends at the CHP, they wanted their “friend” respected. If this was one source I’d probably ignore it, but being multiple, it’s hard to ignore. Nothing to do with making news, what occurred with the flag being risen was wrong and bringing attention to it, hopefully it creates a policy change that is much needed so people can be honored properly.

As for the call, there was no call, it was email conversation which I can assure you those who need to see what went down now have copies. Nice try.

Joe Firefighter Sep 8, 2012 - 7:31 am

As a firefighter in the District, thank you for this piece and supporting us. While I will not go into details, I wil say this is spot on with the exception of asking for the pink slip. A policy change would do the trick.

Chuck Varnado Sep 8, 2012 - 10:47 am

Nice Work Mike

Frank S Sep 9, 2012 - 4:28 pm

Mike, I was a bit pissed when I heard this, glad you helped correct the problem and thank you for the firefighters who were brave enough to speak out against this madness.

Mr. Wells, you guys have my full support on the Measure, but this is something that should have been out in the open from the beginning since it happened in the past and nothing was done. I doubt if Mike hadn’t brought it up, it would have changed.

EastCountyReader Sep 11, 2012 - 1:50 pm

Thanks for the update Burk. I am glad that the department decided to change the policy. I do believe it was because of your efforts. Shame on Fire Chief Randy Bradley for having to be forced to do the right thing. It’s guys like him that are giving the fire departments a bad rap.

Keep up the good work.

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