Howard W. Rayon Distinguished Service Award

Back to homepage

award-picHoward W. Rayon
Distinguished Service Award


The first FSTI Distinguished Service Award was presented during opening ceremonies of the 2009 California State Firefighters’ Association Annual 87th Conference in Sacramento to Chief Howard W. Rayon. A resolution was then presented naming the award in honor of his tremendous contributions, leadership, lifetime of achievements and dedication to the fire service.  Howard was a significant influence in the development of FSTI and served as corporate secretary until his death on 19 October 2009.

In 1971 Chief Rayon started his career with the US Forest Service in San Bernardino and later moved to Descanso where he was assigned to the newly formed Laguna Hot Shots. In January 1977 he moved to the Santee Fire Department where he received the Firefighter of the Year award in 1989. Following retirement in 2005 as deputy chief he continued his career as a Type 1 Safety Officer on California Interagency Incident Team 2.

Chief Rayon held a Masters of Public Administration degree from San Diego State University, a graduate of Western State University College of Law and a member of the California State Bar. Additionally, he was a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and later accepted to the academy’s faculty. As a national Incident Commander, Chief Rayon served on many large incidents including the “Old,” “Grand Prix” and “Zaca” fires as well as the La Conchita landslide and Hurricane Katrina. He received an internship with the San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team and served as liaison to the District Attorney’s Office assisting in the investigation and prosecution of over 400 fires.

Chief Rayon was active in the Santee Firefighters’ Association, the California State Firefighters’ Association and a familiar instructor at the CSFA Employee-Employer Relations Seminars. Chief Rayon became well-known as a labor attorney representing law enforcement and firefighters throughout California. In 2006 he was awarded California Fire Service Training Officer of the Year.

Chief Rayon was described by friends as a soft-spoken man – a true leader and model for the entire fire service. This award is a tribute of honor and respect to a man who truly gave his all with no expectation of anything in return.

The first recipient of the award was Chief Paul Stein during the 2010 CSFA 88th Annual Conference in San Diego. Chief Stein was selected by Chief Rayon himself to receive the award. Other recipients include Ronny J. Coleman in (2011), Bill Vandevort (2012) Thomas Forster (2013), Michael T. Metro (2014), Dr. Denis Onieal (2016), Randy Bruegman (2017) and Gordon Graham (2018).

Ronny J. Coleman, Dr. Denis Onieal, Paul Stein, Tom Forster, Bill Vandevort and Mike Metro