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

Now that the ceremony is over the reality of the job is setting in the responsibility of leading the group of an all-volunteer 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 some 20 people who are trained to serve at the south end of Cache Valley as EMT’s 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, 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 Smith’s 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.”

There are times when she has to go to the Philippines. It is 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.”

Volunteering is in her blood. 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 what she want 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 spreadsheet int the fire house that tracks all the classes and certifications the volunteer firefighters have to go too.

The process of being appointed chief was not a shoe in for her, Smith went up 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.

Giving service is a big deal for the new chief.

“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 Smiths 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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