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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Tyler Church

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It’s time for the eighteenth 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; Tyler Church. Church, born in Newberg OR, was hired at Umatilla County Fire District #1 in February of 2018. Before his firefighting career started, Church had dreams of making it as a pro athlete while growing up. After graduating from Newberg High School in 2009 he enrolled at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, OR. During his first year in college Church realized that studying business and playing both baseball and football as a redshirt freshman wasn’t what he really aspired to do. “I went to college for sports out of high school, studied business, realized that I didn’t really want to be in an office all day. I also realized I wasn’t gonna go pro so I quit that and moved up to Corvallis, OR and enrolled in General Studies at Oregon State University,” Church exclaimed. After relocating to Corvallis, Church spoke to an old family friend, Terry Taylor. For a lot of firefighters, it’s someone in their family or a close friend that sparks their interest in this career. Taylor recommended that he try a ride-along at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) and the rest is history. Following Church’s ride along he came to the understanding that this was the perfect job for him, combining the active lifestyle and problem solving on a daily basis. “Firefighting kind of resembled sports that I did most of my life. I got to be out of the office, be active, and fight fire which at the time I didn’t know it was gonna be that cool,” he remembered.

As a result, Church found himself volunteering for a few years at Newberg Fire Department until moving up to a part-time position. Ready to take on this new career head first, Church went to Chemeketa Community College and got his EMT certification. Soon after, Church decided to take his education a step further and get his paramedic license through the College of Emergency Services. While in the process of finishing paramedic school, Newberg Fire Department was absorbed under TVF&R. This made Church a volunteer now, as TVF&R did not recognize his position at Newberg. This didn’t dissuade Church, as he stuck with it until receiving his five year fire service pin. Following this momentous occasion, Church applied to jobs throughout the state and was in negotiations with two departments. UCFD #1 was one of the two departments, but Church doubted himself getting an offer because they were only looking to hire one firefighter. “Then one day UCFD #1 ended up giving me an offer and I moved out here to Hermiston as soon as I could” he said.

In the same way that Newberg Fire Department had a family brotherhood, Church found that here at UCFD #1. Firehouses are built on trust being not only endowed to the community, but the people you work alongside. “The thing I really like about UCFD #1 is we are a family, everybody knows each other’s wives, kids, their significant other, whatever it is… and you still have that small town feel with our community members,” said Church. “It’s that family aspect. You’re living with people for two days, so you spend just as much time with these men and women as you do with your family at home. So that family feel is very special to me. The appreciation from the community is great,” he added. Firefighters and paramedic train each and everyday to be prepared for any type of situation. The preparation and dedication to the craft is what makes this job fulfilling for Church. “Being a paramedic now, it’s those serious calls where you take somebody’s worst day and making it a hundred times better. There is definitely good feelings involved with this job but doing the things that we over prepare for is definitely very rewarding when we get to put those skills to the test,” proclaims Church. Our department is always devoted to protecting our communities we serve by providing the highest quality of compassionate and professional services. It’s the employees out there on the front line that carry out that mission each and everyday they jump on the fire engine or ambulance. “This department is really caring. Even though there’s times that things may not go their way, it affects us too. We care, we are family oriented and we work like a well oiled machine. Whether it’s medical calls, fire calls, motor vehicle accidents, we’re always providing the best service that we can to everybody in our community,” said Church.

In effect, Church moving to Hermiston to start his job at UCFD #1 brought him closer to his girlfriend, now his wife, and mother of his three children, Kara. Church first met Kara at the Willamette County Music Festival while going to paramedic school in the Valley. Fast forward to now and they have a beautiful family with three kids. “Since I have three kids now I haven’t been able to do a bunch of outdoor activities like hunting or fishing but Kara, the kids and I go to Hawaii about every year and relax. I think it’s important with people in this career to tale some time to decompress,” said Church. Other interests of Church include woodworking and watching football whether it be the Seahawks of the Beavers. “My wife’s an Oregon Duck, so the house is split and we’re constantly trying to persuade the kids to go either way,” he chuckled.

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.