firefighter Johnathan Theodore on wrench warsIt would be a major understatement to say Johnathan Theodore loves cars. Well before he shared his talent on MAVTV’s Wrench Wars, Johnathan grew up in a world of auto shops and fabrication specialists. So what made him pursue a career in firefighting? And what made him ply his favorite pastime to help the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund? The answer: a broader sense of family.

“My parents always owned their own shops, and mom and dad worked on cars forever. But I liked the security of firefighting,” Johnathan explains. “Working on cars isn’t as reliable as it used to be, and I always wanted to be a firefighter, even as a kid.”

After spending 10 years with the LAFD and earning a promotion to Apparatus Operator at Fire Station 21, Johnathan understands the heart and integrity required to wear the uniform, as well the value firefighters have in the community. That’s why he’s also a proud member of the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association. “It’s one of those things that costs almost nothing. And if I get hurt, the Relief Association is there for my family. It’s firefighters helping other firefighters,” says Johnathan.

So when the owner of El Rey’s Garage and creator of Wrench Wars, Brother JD, asked Johnathan to exercise his family trade and appear on the premiere episode of this backyard builders auto competition show, he jumped at the opportunity. Why? The winner, after completing three rounds on their mechanical dream project, takes home a donation to their favorite charity. For this LAFD veteran, Widows & Orphans, the official charity of the Relief Association, was the obvious choice.

To compete, Jonathan chose the vehicular makeover of his beloved 1965 Buick Skylark. “I call her Project Soccer Mom,” he says with a laugh. “I bought this particular car because my wife and I had a son. I have another hot rod, but it’s a 2-seater and we needed more space,” Johnathan continues. “Working on cars is great as a hobby, but my primary downtime is spent with my family and I needed something to make that possible.”

And rest assured that love and support runs both ways. On the day the episode was filmed, Jonathan’s loved ones were out in full force. “My father was there in the crowd, along with my wife, my son, and about 7 or 8 of my buddies. They all came to cheer me on,” he says. After impressing the judges with his handiwork to the exterior, his knowledge of everything under the hood, and dissembling a jigsaw contraption of auto parts that would challenge even the most experienced gearhead, Johnathan won a $1,000 donation to the Widows & Orphans charity.

For this proud hook-and-ladder expert, there wasn’t a moment of doubt. Whether it’s his parents, his wife and little one, or his firehouse brethren, Johnathan puts family first. “I tell my wife all the time that I’m a simple creature. I love tinkering in my garage. I love spending time with my family. And I love being a firefighter. It’s that simple.”

Keep an eye out for LAFD A/O Johnathan Theodore on the premiere episode of Wrench Wars on MAVTV in early 2017.

— Candace Nicholson