BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – Jeff Bassett admits it sounds cliche, but being a firefighter is all he ever wanted to do.
Bassett is the new fire chief for the South Davis Metro Fire Agency, replacing Jim Rampton, who retired in May.
“It’s always been my desire to help people in need,” Bassett said. “Both my parents are hearing impaired. Growing up I was the voice for them,” the new chief said shortly after the announcement of his promotion was released on Monday.
“In my early years, I felt I had to take care of them, to watch over them,” Bassett said. “There was nothing else I wanted to do, but to help people.
“I’m very exited (to be named fire chief). I’ve worked my whole life here and I love the community,” Basset said.
Bassett began his career as a firefighter in 1991 with the Bountiful City Fire Department. During his career he has served in the capacity of firefighter, fire investigator, fire inspector, engineer, captain, public information officer and deputy chief under Rampton.
Through those years, he made his skills in signing for the hearing impaired known within the department and to area law enforcement agencies as well. He has made himself available when he can to interpret.
In spite of increased responsibilities he’ll be facing as fire chief, he’ll continue signing in the community, as much as he is able.
“I’m very committed to family, my public safety family and my personal family,” Bassett said. “Just because I’ll have more responsibilities, doesn’t mean I’ll stop interacting in the community.”
Bassett’s passion for helping people goes beyond the hearing-impaired community.
“I’ve always wanted to make a connection with people,” he said. “Many situations we find ourselves in with people are not of an emergency nature, but through a conversation we can help them get through the day.”
He hopes his new position will allow him to meet more of the community.
“I want to meet more people to make sure everyone knows how great South Davis Metro is,” he said.
Initially, Bassett said he and his staff will take an operational look at the agency and how they are responding to calls.
“The merger (of the Bountiful Fire Department and the South Davis Fire District) was in 2005 and we’ve had some growth since then. We’re going to evaluate how we’re doing,” he said.
He’ll also be looking at filling the deputy chief position he vacated to become chief.
South Davis Metro Fire Agency board member, West Bountiful Mayor Ken Romney, said the board had 23 applications, three of them from within the agency and four or five from out-of-state applications.
“All things considered, I think we found the best candidate within the agency. He’ll do a great job,” the mayor said.
A native of Denver, Bassett and his wife moved here because Utah was halfway between Denver and his wife’s family in Montana. They live in Centerville and have two sons, ages 15 and 18.
Bassett holds a bachelor of science degree in public emergency services management and an executive fire officer degree from the National Fire Academy.