ELLICOTT CITY, MD – This Sunday, July 23rd marks the fifth anniversary of the passing of Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Lieutenant Nathan “Nate” Flynn. At just 34 years of age, Lieutenant Flynn died in the line of duty in 2018, while battling a house fire in Clarksville, Maryland. A 13-year veteran of the department, Lieutenant Flynn was a member of HCDFRS’ Special Operations Team and assigned to the Rivers Park Station. 


A cut above the rest, Lieutenant Flynn was a dedicated career firefighter who loved his job, his family, his brothers and sisters, and life. As we continue to learn from Lieutenant Flynn – from the example that he set, the life that he led and from his tragic passing, it is our duty and responsibility to do all that we can to ensure this never happens again and his legacy lives on. His family, especially his five children, will forever be in our hearts.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

Known for his attention to detail and passion for learning, Lieutenant Flynn was a firm believer that excellent firefighters are made, not born. In honor of his drive to continuously seek out training to enhance his skills as a firefighter, as well as ways to pass along his knowledge to others, his coworkers and departmental leadership launched “Nate Flynn Training Day” on the first anniversary of his death in 2019. Committed to keeping his memory alive by telling his story so others may learn from his loss, Nate Flynn Training Day offers fire service members the opportunity to participate in a full day of interactive and relevant training.

New this year, there will be two trainings, including a one-day joint training with Frederick County Division of Fire & Rescue Services (DFRS). HCDFRS will hosts its annual Nate Flynn Training Day on July 23rd and will join Frederick County DFRS on August 3rd to host a “Lt Nathan Flynn & BC Josh Laird Combined Training Program” (Battalion Chief Joshua Laird died from injuries he sustained fighting a house fire in Ijamsville, Maryland on August 11, 2021). This inaugural joint training with Frederick County DFRS will focus on lessons learned, what went wrong in both incidents and provide attendees a chance to reflect on the courage and sacrifices made by Nate and Josh doing the job they both so loved.

Our department continues to mourn the tragic line of duty death of Lt. Nathan Flynn. That dark day in the history of our department shall never be forgotten as Nate made the ultimate sacrifice in his commitment to serve. To honor his legacy, his love of the fire service, and his dedication to training, we’ve implemented numerous recommendations, made comprehensive changes, and created Nate Flynn Training Day to help us reduce risk, provide lessons learned, and prevent tragedies like this in the future. His wife Celeste and their five children remain a part of our Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue family forever.

Lou Winston
Chief, Department of Fire and Rescue Services

In addition to the yearly training days, HCDFRS has also implemented several internal changes following the findings of an Internal Safety Review Board investigation. Those changes include:

  • With support from County Executive Ball, the Department increased staffing levels from three to four firefighters on all fire engines and expansion of one Battalion Chief and one paramedic officer position to provide 24/7 coverage, particularly in the western side of the county;
  • Restructured training programs to shift focus to hands-on training in realistic conditions, including the department’s Tactical High-Risk Operations Academy Rotations (THOAR);
  • Trained all fireground personnel to use closed-loop communication methods and making changes to radio equipment programming;
  • Improved crew accountability to ensure that all firefighters on the fireground are operating within the command structure; and
  • Revised of operational policies.

Launched in 2019 as part of a restructure of the department’s training programs, HCDFRS’ THOAR training program develops and reinforces task cohesion, situational awareness, recognition-primed decision-making and communicating shared mental models under realistic fireground conditions. This training program is designed to provide opportunities in a realistic training environment for officers and firefighters to practice implementing a mission-oriented philosophy, using effective fireground communication through closed-loop communications, ensuring comprehensive crew accountability, establishing an incident action plan, and carrying out effective tactics.

“July 23, 2018, was a tragic day for our department as we lost one of our own, Lt. Nathan Flynn,” said D.J. Marasco, President, Howard County Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2000. “The members of the Howard County Professional Firefighters Local 2000 appreciate the efforts of County Executive Calvin Ball, Fire Chief Lou Winston, and our elected leaders, to work collaboratively with our organization to institute changes that have an immediate impact on firefighter safety as well as the safety of the citizens whom we proudly serve. Our organization would be remiss to not thank the collective efforts of our local and State elected officials, the Professional Firefighters of Maryland, and Celeste Flynn and Sara Laird on their efforts to pass the Flynn/Laird Act. The passing of this bill, combined with continuous improvements to firefighter safety, will have a positive impact on our members and the citizens we serve.”  

Additionally, a portrait of Lieutenant Flynn hangs in the County’s James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center and the road that extends near HCDFRS’ practical training facility has been dedicated as Nathan Flynn Way.

Holding the rank of firefighter at the time of his passing, Flynn was posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

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