The West Jordan Fire Department did not officially become what it is today until 1999. Prior to that time, our firefighters have seen many changes:
1950 – 1951
Under the direction of Al Cole, fire protection was provided to the City by Salt Lake County. A 2,000 gallon water truck was placed at Burton’s Garage on the east side of Redwood Road, just north of 7800 South.
On June 22, 1951, the West Jordan town board awarded a bid to Jordan Builders and Supply to construct the City’s first fire station. It was built for a mere $1,100 at approximately 1801 W. Bingham Highway (or 7800 South). Perched atop a light pole beside the station was a large, yellow war-surplus air-raid siren that could be heard at least a mile away.
1952 – 1976
Salt Lake County supplied the fire equipment, while West Jordan recruited volunteer firemen, mostly from the Lions Club. Al Cole remained chief until 1973 when Bill Sylvester was appointed.
1977 – 1978
Many changes took place during this time period. West Jordan rejected the proposal to establish a fire district with the County, instead creating the City’s first Fire Department. As a result, personnel needed to increase from a part-time chief and 10 volunteers. Cecil Loving was hired as the first full-time firefighter. A trailer was placed behind the station for sleeping quarters and an office. Bill Sylvester was replaced by Lance Foster, then Don Davis and Walt Schanuel, all of whom served short time periods.
Gerald Bagley donated property in the Bagley Industrial Park for Fire Station #54 (still in operation today). The building was completed by Philipoom Construction in three months for $136,813. The Police Chief was given responsibility over the Fire Department and the appointment fell upon Lt. Kent Brown.
1980 – 1981
A second Fire Station (#25) was completed on 7839 S. 2700 West by Philipoom Construction in four months for $251,613. The station on 1801 W. 7800 South was closed after 28 years in operation.
1982 – 1986
The chief’s position was taken over by Lt. Gary Jeffs, while the Public Safety Director was Kal Farr, who oversaw the Police and Fire under the West Jordan Department of Public Safety.
A third Fire Station (#26) was completed on 7925 S. 1300 West by Savage Construction in seven months. Patricia Hill became the first female full-time firefighter. She spent the remainder of her firefighting career with West Jordan and retired in 2004.
1989 – 1994
Lt./Capt. Randy Johnson served as the Division Commander. In 1994, the department listed 25 full-time and 29 part-time firefighters, of which nine were cross-trained with police certification. The Fire Department created their own ambulance service, placing two Ford ambulances in service. The department also purchased a 1993 Smeal Truck with 75’ aerial ladder and a 1993 Pierce TeleSquirt pumper with a 50’ aerial ladder.
1994 – 1998
Capt. Barry (BJ) Snooks led the Fire Department with Kenneth McGuire as the Director of Public Safety. The City’s rapid growth necessitated hiring additional full and part-time firefighters. Over an 18 month period, the City saw 16 firefighters leave to work for other fire departments.
A proposal to separate Police and Fire services and create a professional Fire Department was written and approved by West Jordan City Council. This was a monumental step in the creation of our current structure. Chief Jake Nielson was hired to lead the department, but because there was a vacancy in the City Manager’s position, Chief Nielson served as interim City Manager for a short time, while Battalion Chief Brad Wardle acted as Fire Chief.
2000 – 2003
The City of West Jordan experienced phenomenal growth as did the Fire Department. The creation of Jordan Landing facilitated a Department Headquarters and Fire Station (#53). We obtained two Pierce Lance transport engines and two Ford F450 ambulances. Also, Fire Stations #25 and #26 were replaced by a more centralized Station #52 next to City Hall at 7950 S. Redwood Rd. Fire Station #55 was also built on 7750 S. 6400 West to accommodate the rapid growth on the west side of the City. The City also annexed Oquirrh Shadows, which included joint-staffing of Fire Station #107, operating with Salt Lake County, now the Unified Fire Authority.
Paramedic service began in 2000 with nine new medics recruited from other departments, some with more than 20 years experience in fire service. Six West Jordan firefighters were sent to paramedic school at Utah Valley State College, beginning a trend that continues today of training our own personnel to become paramedics.
After September 11, 2001, attitudes and policies changed nationally in the fire service. Because we were humbled and awestruck with the devastation, greater emphasis and training were developed on such topics as homeland security, domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. Also, new committees, policies and procedures were created and instigated.
2004 – 2007
In 2004, Bradley C. Wardle became Fire Chief during another episode of growth. Boasting 70 suppression and 13 administrative personnel, we operated ALS transport service out of all four stations and responded to over 5000 emergencies annually. Also during this time period we developed our own Hazardous Materials team and a Technical Rescue team, with over 20 technicians in each discipline. We obtained a 2005 Pierce HazMat utility truck, a 2006 Pierce ladder truck with a 105’ aerial, and a 2007 Pierce Lance Heavy Rescue truck.
We had our first big wave of retirees as Ed Larsen, Ray Davis, Cecil Loving, Dan Ivie, and Brad Wardle all retired after many years of service.
Battalion Chief Marc McElreath served as interim Fire Chief while the City interviewed candidates.
Fire Chief Brad Wardle decided that he liked West Jordan Fire Department too much and resumed his position with the City. We took delivery of a new 2008 Ford F450 ambulance and two Ford F350 trucks to serve the Battalion Chiefs.
In April of 2010 Fire Chief Brad Wardle left West Jordan to become the Chief of the Mountain View Fire Department, Mountain View, CA. Assistant Chief Marc McElreath was appointed as the Chief of the West Jordan Fire Department.
We currently operate four fire stations with a Battalion Chief assigned to manage each platoon. Our shift schedule mirrors others in the valley that work a 48/96 rotation for A, B and C Platoons. We offer paramedic level medical care and transport from all four stations. We provide specialized response to hazardous materials incidents and have technical rescue capability.
We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay before us, confident in the training and expertise of our personnel. We are grateful to those individuals who played crucial roles in paving the way for our department to become one of the most professional, progressive, and respected departments in the state.