Ashley Smith was named the new fire chief for Paradise on March 21. She stands by one of the Paradise fire trucks on Friday March 29, 2024.

PARADISE – Ashley Smith was named the new fire chief for Paradise on March 21. She was sworn in by Paradise Mayor Larry Johnson.

Ashley Smith the new fire chief for Paradise works on the office computer at the fire station on Thursday March 28, 2024.

Now that the ceremony is over, the reality of the job is setting in and the responsibility of leading the group of an all-volunteer group of firefighters is humbling.

“I mean, whoever takes over this position of Fire Chief would be lying if they said they weren’t scared,” she said. “I am responsible for the lives of the people I care most about.”

There are approximately 20 people who are trained to serve at the south end of Cache Valley as EMTs and firefighters.

“They are amazing people and I’m excited to work with the most incredible volunteers,” she said. “My group is just exceptional; they are an extension of my family.”

Smith grew up in Logan and met her husband Brandon at Mountain Crest High School. Brandon is a Registered Nurse that works at Box Elder County jail, he owns an automobile repair shop (Smitty’s) in Hyrum and still finds time to volunteer at the fire department.

In most ways the job is rewarding, but there are times when it gets rough.

“So far, the worst thing I’ve had to deal with is kids,” Smith said. “When you can’t save kids, it takes it out of you. It is traumatic sometimes, we just learn to cope with it.”

The Smiths have four children of their own, one is adopted, they fostered eight and she was a surrogate for three children, she said.

“I work full-time as director of a call center in the Philippines,” she said. “There are times when I have leave home and go to the Philippines.”

In those times when she has to go to the Philippines, it takes about 28 hours in airplanes and layovers to get there.

“The people are so nice,” she said. ”For the most part they all speak some English.”

Ashley Smith the new fire chief for Paradise holds the nozzle that goes on a fire hose on Thursday, March, 28, 2024.

Volunteering is in her blood and she looks for service opportunities. In 2011 she began volunteering for Rising Star Outreach where she spent time in India with people affected by leprosy. She spent time in schools tutoring children and built sewer tanks in a leprosy colony.

She is also a volunteer for Families Feeding Families where she helps gather winter coats and supplies and makes hygiene kits for the homeless.

It’s no wonder when she kept passing a sign asking for volunteers in Paradise she jumped at the chance.

“When we moved to Paradise, I kept passing a ‘volunteer needed’ sign,” Smith said. “I went there to see what they needed help with. I asked them what they needed help with. I thought they needed some office help.”

They asked her if she wanted to be an EMT or a firefighter. And that is when her career with emergency services began in Paradise in 2015.

Since the early years of her firefighting career, she has taken firefighting and EMT classes at Bridgerland Technical Collage and Utah Valley University.

There is a spreadsheet in the fire house that tracks all the classes and certifications the volunteer firefighters have to go to.

Ashley Smith was sworn in by Paradise Mayor Larry Johnson as the new fire chief on March 21 2024.

The process of being appointed chief was not a shoe-in for her, Smith went up against some pretty tough competition before getting the nod.

When it was all said and done Smith became the fire chief. She was touted as being the first woman fire chief in Utah.

“I believe people need to volunteer,” Smith said. “They need to take the time to be of service in some organization or service club.”

People may say they don’t have time, but Smith works 40 hours a week and is the Paradise Fire Chief and still volunteers when she can.

“The story should be more about getting people to volunteer than me,” she said, “if not for a fire department somewhere else. There are a lot places looking for volunteers.”

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