Blue Ridge Fire District
"From the Firehouse"
By: Philip E. Paine, Fire Chief
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to the community of Happy Jack, AZ.
Hello, my name is Philip E. Paine (most people just call me Phil). I am the newly appointed Fire Chief of the Blue Ridge Fire District. If you want to get down to brass tacks, I was technically promoted to the position. You see, I have been a member of the Blue Ridge Fire District for many years. Here’s my story:
I was married in the fall of ’96 to a pretty little U of A grad (GO CATS!) and Strawberry, AZ native by the name of Candace J. Franks. I begin with her because she is my everything. We were married in Pine at the First Baptist Church where she grew up and where we still attend every Sunday to this day. The pastor that married us just so happened to be the local fire department recruiter, and so my journey in the fire service began.
I was a slow starter. Mostly, I enjoyed going out on emergency calls as a volunteer to help people, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think anyone could make a living doing something they love. I was a third-generation roofer in Tucson when we met, and so I continued roofing when we married and later moved to Pine. I am proud of my roofing heritage because it taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance (especially in the dead heat of a Tucson summer).
It was the spring of ’99 that I learned I was going to be a dad. Boy, talk about a change of perspective! This was definitely a turning point in my life. Now I had to provide not only for myself and my beautiful wife, but for an entire family!
So I decided to start a business. Pine Canyon Roofing was the name, and it took off like a shot! All the while, I was attending my fire academy classes and certifying as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on nights and weekends so that I could continue serving my community as a volunteer firefighter. I really enjoyed helping others, but it still couldn’t pay the bills.
Naturally, with nothing much to do on the weekends in small town USA, our family grew. I am now the proud father of one boy (Caleb is the oldest) and three girls (in order from oldest to youngest are Jerusha, Emma, and Winnie). Caleb will be attending pre-med at the U of A on a full academic scholarship this fall. Jerusha is a high school junior and first chair flute/section leader in the Payson High School (PHS) band. Emma is an aspiring PHS freshman and National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) state archery champion. Winnie is a seventh-grade cross country and track all-star with the reading proficiency of a university professor. These kids are my pride and joy!
The roofing business was doing very well and provided for all our needs through those years, but it was in 2006 that the decision was made. I was offered full time employment as a firefighter/EMT with the Pine Strawberry Fire District. Exciting as this was, it was a tough decision because the average pay for a firefighter was nowhere close to what I was making as a roofing contractor. Caution to the wind, I jumped in head first and accepted the position. By the way, that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life!
I became bored with being an EMT and certified as a paramedic in 2008. Later the same year, I was hired on with the Blue Ridge Fire District as a firefighter/paramedic. The roofing business was dissolved, and I was committed to being the best firefighter/paramedic that I could possibly be.
Back in those days, there was only one paramedic in the station at any given time, but I was far from being alone. I quickly learned that the BRFD volunteer staff had my back and would
be there to support my efforts 24/7. I loved my new job, and would shortly thereafter come to love the community I served here as well. The lonely nights didn’t last for long. In 2010, BRFD hired the first 3 full time EMT/firefighters. Now I had someone to talk to and share meals with after everyone else went home at the end of the workday. Response times improved dramatically! I no longer had to wait for a volunteer ambulance driver to respond for an emergency call because now the driver was right there in the station with me! These were exciting times as the Blue Ridge Fire District was growing and evolving into what we now have today.
The following year, BRFD hired 3 more full time EMT/firefighters. As a direct result of the increase in staffing, I was promoted to Captain/EMS Coordinator in 2011. In case you are wondering, EMS Coordinator is just a fancy term for “takes care of ambulance stuff”.
In 2012, I went back to school at Coconino Community College and attained an Associate’s Degree in Paramedicine that complimented my new job description perfectly. In 2014, I continued on with my education and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety and Emergency Management from Grand Canyon University.
And that pretty much brings us to where we are here today. After 20 something years in the fire service, I am still married to the love of my life, I have four awesomely talented kids, I hold two degrees and got promoted a couple of times, and I make a living doing what I love. I would say that I am very blessed!
I would like to close by saying “thank you” to this community and those within that have been instrumental in bringing and keeping me here. I can’t imagine doing this without such great friends and support. I would also like to thank my God for enabling me to do the job and blessing me with the talents and abilities that make me the man that stands before you here today.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
So there you have it! The short and abbreviated story of my life in the fire service. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share a little something about myself. I have thoroughly enjoyed these past several years with the Blue Ridge Fire District and I look forward to serving this community for many more years to come.
Philip E. Paine
BRFD Fire Chief