Fire Chief Jack Thomas - Sep / Oct 16

Fire Chief Jack Thomas also worked as a paramedic for 19 years, when he saved lives by helping thousands of people to the hospital each year.

Fire Chief Jack Thomas

Fire Chief Jack Thomas has always been a team player. After working a variety of positions in the Orange Fire Department for more than 28 years, the past year as Fire Chief has given him the opportunity to prove himself as a capable leader, as well.

“I had always been involved in team sports,” says Thomas, who grew up in Orange County. “I enjoy the team concept, and we have a very strong team at the Orange Fire Department, so it was a natural fit for me. I’ve coached sports, and our chiefs are in a sense coaches.”

Thomas first gained an interest in the Fire Department at the age of 21 after meeting his wife, whose father was a firefighter. He worked as a paramedic for 19 years, and throughout his time with the Fire Department, has held every rank on the service, including firefighter, captain, battalion chief and over the past year, Fire Chief. “People don’t realize that in the city of Orange, we run 15,000 calls a year,” says Thomas. “Our guys are very busy. About 70 percent of our firefighters are also paramedics. We get the absolute best people.”

A little over a year ago, the Orange City Council and City Manager, Rick Otto, selected Thomas to serve as interim Fire Chief. Thomas explained that while the council and city manager have the choice to look at an outside hire for the position, the positive feedback from the community helped with the decision to hire from within.

“Chief Thomas is a very level-headed professional with a high level of integrity and well-versed in fire service,” says Otto. “I had a high degree of confidence that he would be the right person, and he has exceeded expectations. I think he has continued to move the department forward, and I’ve been very impressed.” Thomas also credits the high-functioning Fire Department as to why he was able to take the opportunity.

The choice to serve Orange is an easy one for Thomas, who appreciates the community for its support and kind residents. “They’re the kind of people you love to work for and with,” says Thomas, who also has a twin brother who works as a battalion chief in Anaheim. “Every time our guys drive by, people wave at us. It’s kind of a small town feel, even though we’re a large city. We get treated like hometown heroes. When you’re treated like that, you want to provide the best.”

Published in the Sep / Oct 16 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Article Written by Elana Katz, photos provided by Jeanine Hill

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