One of the first things firefighter Peter Goff did after retirement was grow out his beard.
“When he worked, he always had very trimmed facial hair. So, when he retired, he was like, I’m going to grow it out,” his daughter Nicole Buss recalled.
“As a firefighter you have to maintain certain facial hair so that you can get an oxygen mask on,” she explained. “So, it was a big deal when he retired so he could have a biker beard – facial hair that was consistent with the biker culture.”
Outside firefighting and family, motorcycle riding was Goff’s greatest love. And he wanted to look the part. But it took a while for the beard to grow out.
“We told him it was terrible. Every time he would come over, it was like Oooh, you’re looking really good,” Buss said with a tinge of loving sarcasm.
Peter Goff – Motorcycle Enthusiast
Goff lived in San Pedro until his death in August 2018. His daughter believes that the long commute to Station 20 in Echo Park – where he worked as an engineer for years before becoming a captain at Station 85 – prompted him to start riding.
“Later in his career he got into motorcycle riding,” Buss said. “I think the motorcycle riding was to cut down on traffic a little bit.”
Goff always enjoyed the outdoors. He would take Nicole and her brother Brian to the annual firefighters’ picnic in Mammoth Lakes, California where they would meet other firefighter families and camp.
“He loved road-tripping,” Buss remembered. “The motorcycle thing just really fed into that passion and he really got a kick out of it. He did the whole Sturgis [Motorcycle Rally] thing. He’d ride across the United States and find hotels along the way.”
“In the few years that he was retired, he made the most of it,” she added. “He saw more of the United States certainly than I had.”
Goff discovered fellow firefighter motorcycle enthusiasts among the LAFD Fire Hogs.
The Hogs were founded in 1992 by LAFD firefighter Joe Teijeira and other firefighters who rode. John O’Connor, a firefighter/paramedic/scuba diver assigned to Station 111, served as president for 20 years.
One of the reasons that the Fire Hogs was founded was to help the Widows, Orphans, & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. O’Connor remembers the day he and Teijeira were sitting around on a hot Van Nuys day drinking beers when legendary LAFD captain Lane Kemper approached them.
“You should get some of those oil-leaking motorcycle friends of yours together and do something for the Widow’s Fund,” O’Connor recalls Kemper saying. And thus, the idea for the LAFD Fire Hogs was born. Over the decades, the Fire Hogs became a formal organization with an elected board and even their own patch sets — insignias identifying the club and its members.
One of those members was Peter Goff.
“Peter joined the club 15-20 years ago,” O’Connor recalled. “We made him Sergeant at Arms very quickly because he had a Navy background so he understood military structure and culture. He knew about the biker culture. So, I relied on him. I said, ‘We need guys like you in the club; you need to be on the executive board because that’s the type of people we need.”
A Lasting Legacy of Service and Fundraising
Goff served as Sergeant at Arms until his passing. But instilling structure (such as how to probably display the patch) wasn’t his only contribution to the organization.
Goff organized the Biker Rodeo Games – one of the two major events the Fire Hogs host to fundraise for the Widows, Orphans, and Disabled Firemen’s Fund.
“I told him put together a Biker Games and we’ll run with it. And he did it,” O’Connor remembers. “He built all the games – the slow drag, the weenie drag, the potato harvest – these are all biker games. He worked the event and he had his friends from a local bar in San Pedro called Walker’s Café come and help build it.”
After Goff’s passing in 2018, he left one more gift. His son Brian donated his father’s 2004 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic to the Fire Hogs. After lovingly restoring it, the club sold the bike for $7,500 at their annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Ride in June, with proceeds going to the Fund.
Goff’s contributions to the LAFD and Fire Hogs won’t soon be forgotten, nor his legacy.
“It was always definitely a source of pride for me saying that’s what my dad did,” Buss said with pride. “It’s a really noble profession. I have two sons and if either of them decides to go that way, I would be very proud of them.”
By Lawrence Yee
Read more about the Fire Hogs