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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Jeremy Grazier

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It’s time for the sixth edition of the UCFD1 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 UCFD1 introduces to you; Jeremy Grazier. Grazier, a United States Military Veteran, grew up in Beach Park, Illinois and made his way out to the Pacific Northwest when he got out of the military in 2001. In June of 2002 he moved to Oregon for personal reasons while working as a truck driver. A few years later, he met a volunteer firefighter who served with Crook County Fire & Rescue in Prineville, Oregon. She told him, “Hey, you should try out volunteering for our fire department, it’s pretty cool.” And that’s exactly what Grazier did, he applied and got accepted. “I went through their training academy for their volunteers and after my very first structure fire, I was hooked,” recalled Grazier. 

Starting in 2005, Grazier volunteered at Crook County Fire & Rescue in Prineville, Oregon while going through their student program and receiving his fire and EMS certifications. After graduating from the student program in June of 2008, he took his skills to American Medical Response (AMR) in Portland, Oregon. AMR’s goal is to deliver compassionate, quality medical care, primarily in the areas of emergency and patient relocation services across the city of Portland. Grazier excelled in this role until an old friend of his he met as a student in Crook County reached out to him for a new opportunity. It was Matt Hodge, a current UCFD1 Lieutenant. “Hodge called me up and said, ‘Hey, we’re taking applications at UCFD1, you should put one in,’ so I listened to him,” explained Grazier. He was hired shortly after that conversation on October 1, 2014, almost seven years ago.

When asked why he chose to go into the fire service, Grazier’s answer was one that most would expect to hear. “I just fell in love with fire,” he said. “My brother is a firefighter on the outskirts of Chicago, but other than that we’re the only two firemen in our family,” he added. A lot of firefighters find themselves standing in the footsteps of a parent or role model, but not for Jeremy and his brother Chris. Two brothers blazing their own trail, 2,000 miles apart. There are a lot of differences between department outside of a big city like Chicago and ours here in Eastern Oregon. “One of the bigger things that is surprising to my brother when we talk is how much we do with the little amount of stuff that we have. I think their (Chris’s department) fire management area is only like 13 square miles and our fire management area is 160 square miles… and our ambulance area is pushing 600,” explains Grazier. There may be a lot of differences between big and small departments but the one thing that is always constant is the brotherhood between first responders. “There’s a fair amount of camaraderie on this department. I’m one of the few that don’t have a family, or don’t have kids per se, but guys still get together, hang out and have a good time,” Grazier remarked. “Depending on the department you’re with, sometimes that’s there… sometimes it’s not,” he added.

The work schedule for the men and women at UCFD1 is 48 hours on and 96 hours off between the three shifts. This allows our personnel to have time with their family while balancing life at the fire house. A lot of firefighters and paramedics pour into their hobbies when not on the clock to fulfill their passion. For Grazier, this sense of freedom is found when he is with his wife, Laura.“My wife and I do cowboy mounted shooting. We will go shoot some guns together, we do archery together and we hunt for elk and deer,” says Grazier. Cowboy mounted shooting is a competitive equestrian sport involving the riding of a horse to negotiate a shooting pattern. Grazier’s horse, Yukon, even bears a Maltese cross on his breast collar. If he isn’t riding or shooting he might be truck driving or even teaching CPR classes.

Grazier is a jack of all trades, he is comfortable and confident no matter the task. “I like a mix (job assignments when on shift). I was in a medic only role in Portland for a long time so I definitely enjoy medicine, but at the same point in time I still like being able to actually catch a fire and be able to make a push in a structure. The unfortunate part about being an engineer is you’re stuck at the pump panel so you’re not able to play. But, I definitely like the mix. I really enjoy the more challenging EMS calls where you actually have to think ahead. That’s one of the reasons why my future plans are to get my flight paramedic certification,” explains Grazier. In mid-October Grazier plans to move down to Surprise, Arizona where his wife just recently relocated. When asked what he’ll miss most about Eastern Oregon he answered, “The weather,  the four seasons. It’ll be interesting acclimating to that climate.” 

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.