Patrick Butler

Interim Fire Chief and Harbor Master
Redondo Beach Fire Department, CA
Patrick Butler is the interim Fire Chief and Harbor Master for the Redondo Beach Fire Department. He retired after 31 years as an Assistant Chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department before joining Redondo Beach. During his distinguished career on the LAFD he held several key positions in the department and promoted through the ranks. His LAFD experience included Chief of Special Operations, where he directed the day-to-day management of the department’s specialized resources, including the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team ~ California Task Force 1. He served as the Chief of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, Chief of Training, Commander of the Arson Counter Terrorism Unit, Commander of Fireboat No.2 in the Port of Los Angeles, Commander of Air Operations, and a Section Commander in the LAFD Homeland Security Division. During his distinguished career, he responded to thousands of emergencies, including the 1992 Civil Disturbance, 1993 Malibu Wildfires, 1994 Northridge Earthquake and some of California’s largest wildfires. He served as the incident commander on several large complex wildfires and holds several qualifications. His experience and research in human factors and decision science has been integral in conducting accident root cause analysis. Chief Butler has led dozens of accident investigations, and near misses, as well as serving on the LAFD significant incident investigation team. In 2018 Chief Butler served as an agency representative and human factors expert on the Interagency CAL FIRE/USFS Mendocino Entrapment Investigation. His work in homeland security and public safety extends beyond the traditional boundaries. He served for over 22 years as a Deputy Sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reserves and retired as a detective. Chief Butler holds a doctorate degree in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in Security Studies and Homeland Defense from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, a bachelor’s degree in Management and graduate of the Army West Point Leadership Program. He is a Harvard Fellow and studied as a Senior Executive Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Chief Butler is a general aviation pilot holding several ratings and a graduate of the USC School of Aviation Safety & Security with an emphasis on safety management systems. Born the son of a Mexican immigrant, Patrick speaks fluent Spanish and spent much of his youth growing up in his mother’s hometown of Veracruz, Mexico.

Sessions by Patrick Butler

02:00 PM - 05:00 PM

Unintended Outcomes: Breaking the Cycle

Instructor:  Tim Kelly, Battalion Chief (Ret.), Los Angeles Fire Department, CA.
In 2018, Los Angeles City Battalion Chief Tim Kelly and a crew of firefighters survived a burn over and entrapment while fighting the Mendocino Fire. The Mendocino Fire remains the third largest wildfire in California’s history, burning nearly a half-million acres of the Mendocino Forest.

During firing operations, Chief Kelly and his crew were cut-off from their escape route by an immense crown-fire burning rapidly through the timber at the fire’s massive front. Chief Kelly will walk attendees through the chilling experience of the entrapment, detailing the sights, sounds and actions in that crucial moment. Participants will get a firsthand sense of what it was like to be caught in a burn-over of this magnitude, including the chaos and confusion that ensued as firefighters made their harrowing escape. He will discuss the leadership that surfaced amongst the crew in those pivotal seconds of being faced with a life-or-death situation.

A review of the U.S .Forest Service-Facilitated Learning Analysis will be reviewed to help highlight some of the larger incident management challenges, strategic and tactical decisions, environmental conditions and human factors that played a key role in the chain-of-events that day.  Chief Kelly will highlight some of the physical, psychological, and structural barriers that challenged the decision-making process and helped to set the stage for the unintended outcome.

An examination of some of the critical decisions leading up to the firefighter entrapment will help drive discussions on methods to help others avoid the same fate, as well as how to remain disciplined in fast paced and high pressure situations.

Case studies of subsequent wildfires will be presented to demonstrate how the lessons of Mendocino were successfully applied under nearly identical circumstances.  Lastly, Chief Kelly will reflect on the core takeaways as a means to further institutionalize risk management practices and create an anchor point from which to ultimately begin “breaking the cycle” of repeatedly learning the same type of lessons that have resulted in unintended outcomes.