Orange County Fire Authority Firefighter James Owen, 56, died
Better known as Jimmy, The Mayor, J.O. or J-Overtime – he loved his job and was even more dedicated to his wife and three sons. Hundreds of firefighters from throughout the region, family members and friends gathered at Mariners Church in Irvine for a final farewell to the Orange County Fire Authority veteran.
The eldest son Jimmy described his father as a funny, caring, outgoing and competitive man who considered firefighting not just a job but the epitome of who he is.
When one of his sons asked him why he didn’t consider working toward a promotion, Owen replied that he always wanted to be on the frontlines and would do so until “the day my heart stops beating,” Jimmy II recalled.
During tense situations, Owen had a sparkle in his eyes alongside his dedication to saving other people’s lives. During the response to the Air California plane crash at John Wayne Airport in February 1981, Kerr questioned Owen on why he showed up out of breath.
“I was in the can,” Owen responded. “And you guys left without me. So I ran all the way here.”
That same day, Owen, who was tending to airplane passengers, was blown out of the aircraft when a second explosion was ignited. Despite suffering the full force of the blast in his face, Owen insisted that he had to tend to those in the airplane, according to Kerr.
He later received a certificate of merit from the Board of Supervisors for his bravery.
Owen, who spent much of his career at Station 4, was known to have a toothpick in his mouth and a penchant for avoiding the uniform when he could, said OCFA Division Chief Michael Boyle.
Owen is survived by his wife Sharon; his 3 sons Jimmy II, Daniel and Kevin.