CAL FIRE and the Brake family lost a dedicated, caring family member on August 9, 2018. Andrew Jason Brake was returning to work during the Carr Fire in Redding, California, when he lost control of his vehicle. Andrew had been a part of CAL FIRE for six years, and it was something he truly loved. They were his family away from home.
Andrew Jason Brake was born in Dearborn, Michigan, on October 28, 1977. He grew up in Chico, California, with his parents, Melvin and Teresa Brake, and his little sister, Lindsay.
Andrew worked as a mechanic for several years, completing the Automotive Program at Butte Community College. At age 33, Andrew gave up his secure mechanic’s job to pursue his dream. He enrolled in the Butte College Fire Academy. On February 20, 2011, Andrew wrote in a social media post to his friends and family, “So, 5 weeks into the 19-week Fire Academy, this is the toughest hurdle I have ever attempted. I’m doing well with a 91.25% grade overall. It’s crazy, every week is finals week. Scary but motivating, can’t wait to complete it. When I do, nothing can stand in my way. It’s all about how bad you want it.”
Andrew took a lot of pride in his work and his accomplishment of being a part of something bigger. Andrew always worked hard, but it wasn’t until he joined CAL FIRE that he truly loved his work. Four years in, he realized the unique value of his combined mechanic and firefighting skills. In March of 2016, Andrew accepted a position as a Heavy Equipment Mechanic with CAL FIRE in the San Benito, Monterey Unit. Andrew was assigned to the CAL FIRE Hollister station for two years. Andrew was missed, being far from family and his two girls. When the opportunity presented itself, he accepted a transfer to the CAL FIRE Butte Unit where he could be back with family. He was a great mechanic and loved what he did. He was described by his peers and supervisors as a very hard worker, always with a smile on his face and something smart to say. His boss described Andrew as a workhorse, wanting to ensure that the CAL FIRE mobile equipment fleet was in top shape.
Andrew will be remembered as a hard worker, a great friend and a father who dearly loved his family.
Andrew was truly an amazing man in everything he did. There is not a day that goes by that my kids or I don’t talk about him, cry from missing him or smile because of all the great days with him. I remember him leaving home at crazy hours to start the drive out of town to where he was stationed and coming back after a long shift just to spend the most time he could with friends and family!– Nicole McNair
You may be gone here but not forgotten. My husband has good memories of working with you. I hope you are turning wrench in heaven. Rest in peace Heavy Equipment Mechanic– Vickie J Bellus