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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Danny Hinton

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It’s time for the thirteenth edition of the UCFD #1 Hot Seat. The Hot Seat provides a brief snapshot sharing the story of a highly committed and dedicated staff member. This month we are telling the story of a hard working and dedicated staff member.

It is with great pleasure UCFD #1 introduces to you; Danny Hinton. Hinton grew up in Condon, OR, a small town with a population of 650 people. He was born in New Zealand and then moved over when he was about six weeks old to be closer to his mom’s side of the family. Ever since he was a kid he was around emergency services. Both of his parents were volunteers at the local fire department and Ambulance Service while he was growing up. His father just recently retired as Fire Chief from the South Gilliam County Rural Fire District after serving for 30 plus years and his mother started out as an ambulance driver and is now an EMT-I with South Gilliam County Ambulance. There was never a boring day for Danny while growing up, from hanging out at the station to being the patient in car wreck mock scenario he got to see what this career was like from a young age. “I was always there for drill night, always hanging out at the fire station in the summer. As long as I can remember, I’ve been a part of that,” recalled Hinton.

Under those circumstances, Danny started his own journey into the world of emergency services when he was in high school. He started taking EMS classes during junior year and in 2002 he took a first responder class because he had some extra credits. While finishing up high school he also joined the ambulance service with South Gilliam County. Following high school, Danny decided to study medical imaging at Oregon Institute of Technology, unfortunately he couldn’t get into the program so he tried nursing, and the same thing happened again. Stuck in the middle of two paths, Danny went back to his roots and where his parents both started, volunteering. Hinton became a volunteer at Fire District #4 in Klamath Falls soon after. “That’s when I realized I didn’t want to be in an office without windows or in the basement of a hospital for 12 hours a day. I really like helping people while still having the medical drive and at that point I realized firefighting was pretty cool so I switched gears,” said Hinton.

Furthermore, Hinton took two terms off from school and transferred to the College of the Siskiyou’s in Weed, CA where he completed a three month long fire academy. Following his stint in California, he came back to Oregon and continued to persevere his education by finishing his Bachelor’s in Small Business at OIT in 2009. After graduating, the next step in Hinton’s journey was getting his EMT-Basic certification by working at an assisted living home while enrolled in a distanced education class. After receiving his EMT-Basic he attended school at Central Oregon Community College for two years where he got an Associates Degree in Fire Science 2012 and an Associates in Paramedicine in 2013. “Once I graduated it took me almost a year of testing and I got hired at Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services which is now Umatilla County Fire District #1,” recalled Hinton. Danny was hired on in June of 2014, just over eight years ago.

Despite Danny growing up around the fire trucks and ambulances he hasn’t got tired of them yet. He never had a desire to be working in an office all day. The randomness and unpredictability of this job is what keeps him on his toes and ready at a moments notice. “I like the different change of pace every single day. For example, the last two days we’ve had multiple fires versus our standard 12 to 15 medical calls. It’s just something different every time I’m on shift. It’s not the same thing every single day. I enjoy the brotherhood of being part of this family that we have here at UCFD #1,” said Hinton. Except the brotherhood between firefighters extends beyond the Fire District, especially at events like the Annual Seattle Stair Climb held in Seattle, WA at the Columbia Center. Sponsored by Scott & 3M, this event raises money every year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is the world’s largest on-air stair climb competition. Each firefighter walks up 69 floors of stairs, completing 1,356 steps to reach a vertical elevation of 788 feet all while on-air. 2,000 firefighters from around the world come to the Pacific Northwest to be apart of this great event that has raised over 22 million dollars for LLS in 31 years. Hinton has been doing the stair climb since 2015 with UCFD #1’s team each year. “I signed up for it back in 2015 because my grandpa struggled with leukemia for several years and then he went into remission and ultimately passed away because of leukemia. So I have a pretty strong personal tie to it and have been doing that for the last seven years. They did two virtual climbs during the pandemic but I’ve signed up and I’ve raised money every year,” stated Hinton. “2,000 firefighters show up every year from all over the world. I’ve talked to guys from Chile, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They always come over. It’s an awesome event,” he added. 

Occasionally when Danny isn’t working at Station 21 he might be out hiking on a trail somewhere. When he was living in Central Oregon he really enjoyed the abundance of trails that surrounded him and got into hiking and backpacking. “I had an annual trip to climb South Sister. I did that for like six years in a row. Last time I did it was with my dad and at the time my girlfriend who is now my wife, Kelsey. So that was the last time I’ve climbed it,” said Hinton. Hiking South Sister is around 12 miles round trip and it maxes out just over 10,000 feet of elevation but you start at around 4,000 feet. Hinton has also completed the Timberline Loop, which wraps around the base of Mt. Hood. “The other one that I’ve been working on slowly and steadily is the Te Araroa trail and it’s the equivalent to the Pacific Crest Trail and stretches the length of New Zealand.  The trail is about 3000 kilometers and I’ve done 1263 kilometers in four trips in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019,” shared Hinton.

It is our goal to bring the community closer with our District by telling the stories of the men and women who represent Umatilla County Fire District #1. It’s better to meet them, before you need them.