Drone picture of Lahaina pre fire

From Devastation to Drive: How one Maui fire fighter is helping the island recover

We’re shining the spotlight on Kai McLaughlin, a firefighter who is making waves in Maui. As an integral member of the Maui Fire Department, McLaughlin is proving that courage and commitment can make a world of difference. Join us as we delve into the life and career of Maui Firefighter Kai McLaughlin, and get ready to be inspired by this tale of bravery and resilience.

Kai McLaughlin – Born to serve his community

Kai McLaughlin, the 47 year old, is a native of Mission Viejo, Ca. Growing up in this laid back, welcoming Southern California town, Kai developed a deep appreciation for taking care of members of his community from an early age. As a child, he was always intrigued by the bravery and dedication of firefighters. Their ability to risk their lives to save others deeply resonated with him, planting the seed for his future career.

Kai’s motivations were rooted in a profound desire to protect and serve his community. His journey into firefighting was not just a career choice, but a calling that would allow him to make a tangible difference in the world around him. Today, as a 10 year veteran firefighter in Maui, Kai has turned that childhood fascination into a reality, dedicating his life to safeguarding his community.

Maui and Lahaina are more than just stunning natural and historical locations to Kai McLaughlin; they are the very fabric of his identity. The lush greenery, the tranquil blue waters, and the vibrant local culture have painted the backdrop of his adult life, creating a deep bond that is indelible and profound.


Kai takes immense pride in his 10 years serving the Maui Fire Department. Rising to the rank of Rescue at Station 10 in Kahului, Kai faced the scariest moments of his career last week as the devastating wildfires ripped towards Old Town Lahaina; eventually destroying most of the historic city center. Seeing the land he loves so dearly ravaged by flames, witnessing the destruction brought to the people and places that make up his world, has been a heart-wrenching experience. As Kai battled the relentless blaze, thoughts of his community losing so much raced through his mind. It was a mental battle as much as a physical one, fueling his determination to fight harder, to save more, and to restore the tranquility that the wildfire had disrupted.


A call to action: The origin story of Boots on the Ground Maui

In the days following the disaster, Kimmie, Kai’s fiancé, was moved to action. Recognizing the long-term impact that such a disaster could have on their beloved community of Maui, she founded a non-profit organization called “Boots on the Ground Maui”. This initiative was not just a response to the immediate crisis, but a commitment to the enduring support that would be needed long after the initial wave of aid and attention had passed, a scenario all too common in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“Boots on the Ground Maui” is dedicated to providing continuous, tangible assistance to the residents of Maui. Kimmie’s vision for the organization is rooted in her deep love for her community, understanding that recovery from such an event is a marathon, not a sprint. The organization aims to fill the gap left when immediate relief efforts wind down, ensuring that the people of Maui are not forgotten and have the resources they need to rebuild and thrive once again.

The mission is to be pioneers in the solution oriented actions that will address Maui’s housing crisis. Not just temporarily. But as a culture changing solution that will transition the Aina from division and imbalance of home stability to a thriving, growing, sustainable and affordable community.

Keep checking back for updates on the progress, including ways that you can help and be sure to fill out our contact us form to stay in touch.