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Esteemed Fire Captain and Advocate Remembered: San Diego Mourns the Loss of Fire Capt. Derrin Austin

Veteran Firefighter and Dedicated Mentor Remembered for His Commitment to Service and Support.

ESCONDIDO — San Diego-Fire Rescue Department is grieving the loss of Fire Capt. Derrin Austin, a revered figure within the department known for his unwavering support and advocacy for his colleagues. Tragically, Austin, 55, lost his life in a motorcycle accident last week in Escondido.

Austin, who had been a part of the San Diego International Airport Fire Station, joined the department in 1990 and had risen to the rank of captain in 2002, as confirmed by officials in a statement shared on the Fire-Rescue Department’s Instagram page on Wednesday.

Described as a devoted friend and colleague, Austin’s compassion and generosity were well-known among those who had the privilege of working alongside him. The Fire Department’s statement expressed, “Derrin was known as a devoted friend and colleague — a man who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Escondido police reported that the accident occurred around 10 p.m. on Sunday when Austin, riding his motorcycle north on North Escondido Boulevard near Washington Avenue, veered off the road and collided with a light pole. Despite efforts from officers and paramedics who arrived at the scene, Austin succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. Authorities are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Throughout his esteemed career, Austin served in various capacities within the Fire-Rescue Department. From Fire Station 12 in Lincoln Park to Fire Station 32 in Paradise Hills, he left a lasting impact on his colleagues at each station. He also dedicated his time to the Training and Safety Division, the dispatch center, and the hazardous materials team. Notably, Austin was an active member of Brothers United, a local chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, where he contributed to their mission of promoting diversity and inclusion within the San Diego County fire and emergency services.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Logan expressed his gratitude towards Austin for the instrumental role he played in shaping his own career. Austin’s mentorship and support extended beyond the workplace, as he generously offered guidance and opportunities for growth. Similarly, Capt. Jason Shanley, who had a personal connection with Austin as his barber, acknowledged the profound impact Austin had on his life, emphasizing his gratitude for Austin’s assistance during his entry into the firefighting profession.

In addition to his role in the Fire-Rescue Department, Austin served as a reservist in the U.S. Navy Construction Force, popularly known as Seabees, for nearly three decades. Colleagues from his Navy service expressed that Austin valued those he supervised and consistently provided mentorship and the necessary resources for their success.

Austin’s commitment to service and his fellow firefighters was evident throughout his career, and his dedication extended beyond professional boundaries. A heartwarming 2010 story from The North County Times highlighted the moment when Austin surprised his son at school following a 12-month deployment in Afghanistan, exemplifying his love for family and the sacrifices made for his country.

The Fire-Rescue Department is currently working closely with Austin’s family to arrange a memorial service that will honor his memory and celebrate his profound impact.

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