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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: James Franz

It’s time for the twenty-fourth 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. It is with great pleasure that UCFD #1 introduces you to James Franz. Franz, originally from North Bend, OR made his way to Hermiston, OR while he was young and graduated from Hermiston High School in 1996. As a kid, Franz’s father worked in hospitals all throughout the state where he was an Emergency Room Manager. After graduating from high school, James wanted to pursue a career in the mechanic industry. He left Oregon and moved down to Arizona where he went to school at University Technical Institute and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Automotive and Diesel. While Franz’s dad was working at Good Shepherd Community Hospital, he had a close relationship with Hermiston Fire & Emergency Services retired Fire Chief Jim Stearns. Stearns had been commenting on how he would like an in-house mechanic to work full time for the department. Ten years later, Sterns got his wish of an in-house mechanic and Franz was hired on, under retired Fire Chief Pat Hart, in July of 2008. After starting his role as a full time mechanic working out of Station 23, the Union wished that Franz had the ability to respond to calls as a volunteer firefighter while working so crews could have an extra hand when needed. Franz started responding to fires with the crews on a regular basis, which ultimately led him to join the Union and become a full time firefighter. 

July of 2024 will mark 16 years with the District for Franz and he has enjoyed his time here. “I like that Hermiston is a growing community, but we’re still a small community,” stated Franz. “I know a lot of the community members because I’ve been here since 1991 so it’s been really cool to see our little town grow but still keep that small town feel,” he added.

One of Franz’s favorite things about being a part of UCFD #1 is the camaraderie that the crews share with one another. “When you have something to talk about or get off your chest, there’s people hear that will lend an ear and listen to you. Jessica Marcum, our Community Paramedic, came in a few shifts ago and spoke to everybody about a difficult call. I think that's growing and I think we need to normalize that,” said Franz. “I think it's really cool that Jessica took it on her own to start that whole entire thing and I know it means a lot to all the men and women who work here,” he added.

When Franz isn’t working or acting as the Local Union 2752 Vice President, he enjoys spending time with his family in the great outdoors. Franz and his wife have two girls, a three year old and an ten month old that they enjoy taking down to his father’s cabin in the country and spending the weekend on their side-by-side. “My dad has a remote spot down there. There’s no cell service, no pagers, nothing. When we get there, it’s time to enjoy life with the family,” he said. Franz’s favorite place to spend time though is the Oregon Coast. “The dunes in North Bend, that’s my heaven,” stated Franz. He remembers getting a four-wheeler for his 12th Birthday when his family lived in Coos Bay, and ever since then he fell in love with riding through the sand dunes on the Coast.

It is our goal to bring the community closer to 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.