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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Jesse Brown

May contain: adult, male, man, person, captain, and officer

It’s time for the seventeenth 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 UCFD #1 introduces to you; Lt. Jesse Brown. Brown, an Oregon native, was hired at Umatilla County Fire District #1 on June 23rd, 2014. He signed on with current fellow firefighters, Danny Hinton, Jeremy Gillette, Matt Lewis, and Dylan Spence. While growing up in North Powder, OR, Brown never thought of being a firefighter. For a short period of time, his father was a volunteer at North Powder Rural Fire Protection District. Brown had pictured himself working as engineer but that all came to a halt when he started working at a ranch in North Powder. Brown’s grandpa leased out the family’s ranch one year, so he got a job working at another ranch in town that just so happened to be owned by North Powder’s Fire Chief, Sam Martin. Brown would always watch Chief Martin leave the ranch in a hurry when the tones went out, responding to an incident. One day he finally rode along with Chief Martin. “I would watch him respond to calls and leave all the work for me. Then one day he asked if I wanted to join and I thought, if you’re gonna get out of the work, I might as well get out of it too,” remembered Brown. Following his response to the fire with Chief Martin, Brown decided to join the North Powder Rural Fire Protection District as a volunteer. While going to high school and volunteering with North Power, one fond memory Brown has was responding to an incident before his varsity basketball game. “We were at the high school in the gym watching the JV girls play basketball and our tones dropped. There was several people in the gym that were volunteers, my coach being one of them. So we took off and went to a structure fire, and it wasn’t much of a fire, but at the time, with the limited experience I had it was fun. We went interior, did some work, tore apart a kitchen, got back to the station, got in service, and then went back to the high school just in time to get dressed down for our game and I still had soot on my face,” recalled Brown. 

In effect, Brown applied to a resident internship with Jefferson County Fire District #1 in 2011. After getting accepting into the program, it was encouraged that recruits enroll in Central Oregon Community College (COCC) to obtain their firefighter I and EMT certifications. While attending school at COCC and interning with Jefferson County Fire District #1 he started working part-time for Warm Springs Fire & Safety. “I went on part-time and picked up shifts at Warm Springs but part way through they had an opening spot at their department. So for my last few months of school, I was pulling full-time shifts covering for a firefighter out on extended leave. Then that firefighter wasn’t gonna come back so they offered me a job,” recalled Brown. Brown valued the fact that he was getting real, on the job experience right out of college. This set him up for success, which is exactly what happened. Following his one year of full time at Warm Springs Fire & Safety, he applied to Hermiston Fire & Emergency Services (later renamed UCFD #1 in 2016) where he would eventually be hired on. “Once I got off probation, I started throwing my name in other hats. Hermiston Fire & Emergency Services being one. They just so happened to be hiring and they’re closer to home,” said Brown. Little did he know, eight years later in August of 2022 he’d be promoted to Lieutenant on A-Shift.

All of a sudden, following Brown’s hiring at UCFD #1, his mother passed and he couldn’t make it to his first shift. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen when he showed up to the station, but he soon found out that his fellow employees offered up sick time for him to be with his family. “I wasn’t even sure if I’d still have a job when I got back but come to find out everyone had donated time. There’s definitely that sense of family here. I was brand new and didn’t even know the people that donated me sick leave hours. They still stepped up, so that was cool and meant a lot,” expressed Brown. Camaraderie is something truly special, to know that your crew has your back at all times, no matter what. Not only is there an overwhelming amount of support from our employees here, but also in the community that UCFD #1 works for. “We get great support from the community here in Hermiston. I’ve only been here eight years, but I’ve made a lot of friends even outside of the fire department and from all walks of life. I think we have a great sense of community here and we’ve got a lot of good people here that I enjoy serving for,” Brown remarked. 

Equally important to work, free time is a must for first responders to take their mind off of the job. Brown has always enjoyed building and creating things and in his free time he combines methods of wood working and metal working. “I like to stay busy, so there’s nothing I’ll really shy away from. So I like woodwork. I like metal working. I probably like metal working the most, but I like to combine them. I’ve got a wood mill and all the tools to fabricate stuff. I also dabble in blacksmithing,” said Brown. When he isn’t taking care of his home or keeping busy with projects, he enjoys getting into the great outdoors to go hunt or jumping on an airplane to travel somewhere new with his wife, Kaira. Just this past month Kaira and Jesse attended their first ever NFL game in Munich, Germany. Brown got to watch his favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the first ever NFL game played in Germany. “I mean, if you were to ask me five years ago if traveling was gonna become a big thing for me, I’d probably say no. Then, I went on the honeymoon with my wife and she’s always been big about traveling so, thanks to her, I think I’ve caught the traveling bug and we like going places,” stated Brown.

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.