Father’s Day series: This time, father follows son into the fire service 

Local 1762 member, Parker McKinnon, challenges his father to join him in the fire service.

June 14 • 2024

Jon McKinnon’s firefighting career began with a challenge from his son. 

Parker McKinnon had just landed a job as a fire fighter with King County Fire District 27 in Washington State, just outside of Seattle. His father, Jon, had the honor of attaching Parker’s pin to his new uniform. 

Seconds later, Parker approached his father, who was 50 years old and shook his hand. In his hand was a challenge coin. As Jon examined it, Parker, then 20 years old, said, “Dad, you’ve been chasing me all these years; now it’s your turn to chase after something.” 

Jon, contemplating a new career after 20 years in municipal government work, accepted the challenge. Today, Jon is a member of Redmond, WA Local 2829, working in the fire marshal’s office and expecting to gain certification as a career fire fighter this year. Parker is a member of Eastside Fire Fighters Local 1762. 

Stories abound in the fire service of sons following their fathers into the service and even daughters following their mothers into the calling. In this case, a father found inspiration in watching his son discover firefighting and chase his dream.  

Dad, you’ve been chasing me all these years; now it’s your turn to chase after something.

Parker mckinnon, local 1762 member

Parker was part of the Boy-Scout-affiliated explorer program for several years as a teenager, then took a fire fighter/EMS course in high school. Upon graduation, Parker entered training, passed his tests, and became a professional fire fighter. 

“I always knew I wanted to be a fire fighter, and I was hooked the first time I went to an explorer’s meeting,” said Parker.. 

Jon has looked on with a father’s pride over those years. “Just watching Parker get after something he wanted has been inspiring. We always want him to do his best, and he always has,” Jon said.  

Now, it’s Parker’s turn to be proud of his dad, who overcame significant challenges to become a fire fighter. There was his age, as most start the process at the beginning of their careers. Then, there was a knee injury in training that sidelined Jon. Once recovered, COVID-19 hit, and the Bothell Fire Department, where he’d applied, decided not to hire him at that time.  

Jon persevered, unwilling to stop the chase, just like his son. Today, Jon is in uniform as a deputy fire marshal with the Redmond Fire Department, and he is a part of the suppression staff. 

Parker and Jon are both doing what they were called to do: protect their community as fire fighters. As an added plus, “I think the best part is that my dad and I are union members,” Parker said with pride.