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Fire Chief Vance Gray loves his job, department's new antique truck

"I have a strong desire to serve in the community I live in," Gray said. "You never know how important that is until you're immersed in it."

Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department Fire Chief Vance Gray is excited to promote the department's new antique fire truck they restored over the summer.

"We have a new antique fire truck as the newest addition to our fleet. It's not a responding unit, but we use it for events like the parade and car show coming up," he said. "We finished (restoring) it in time for Trunk of Treat this year. We got it from the Hall of Flame. It was one they had but didn't intend to use for the museum. We made the donation to take possession of it in July and our staff began to work on it and now it runs, drives and stops, making it available for these town events. It will be carrying members of the Town Council at the holiday parade on Dec. 4."

Gray said members of the department enjoy being out in the community doing programs like their free CPR and Stop the Bleed campaign "to ensure people are trained that bleeding injuries can cause death and that you can save a life with that and CPR," he said, adding that they work with East Valley Firefighter Charities and are getting ready for the Christmas toy drive for children. The Dec. 16 toy drive is in partnership with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office District 6 - Queen Creek at Desert Mountain Park. The antique fire truck will also be in the Dec. 11 Kid's Christmas Car Show and Toy Drive in Queen Creek.

"We participate in every town event here to promote the fire department and provide public education," Gray said. "We are a young, energetic organization that is very willing and anxious to share and be in the community. We're always doing ongoing public education programs and fire station and truck tours."

Gray said the department has 81 total employees, including 74 firefighters, operational personnel and support staff. 

"We're an all hazards fire department, primary first responders when somebody calls 911. The majority of our response is medical," he said. "We have at least four firefighters who respond to calls and two of them are paramedics and the remaining are basic EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians). All firefighters have medical training and then we're backed up by ambulance services."

The Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department started on Jan. 1, 2008 with one fire station. Gray said they added to that station and then built a second station.

"Queen Creek has grown rapidly since 2008 and with growth comes a youthful organization layered with longer tenured people so we have a great wealth of experience as well as young new talent," he said. "We're focused on growth and the needs of our organization to train and promote so we're prepared for the future. It's vital to get us to the point of a well trained department."

Gray said the department sets a timeline for its recruitment. First, there's the application phase before they hit the streets in six to eight months. Then there's a written test, two oral interviews and intern recruitment academy part time on the weekends for six weekends "to get a better look at them in a team setting." Then comes selection for full-time fire academy that is 40 hours a week for 15 weeks. "This is full training and then they are ready to be placed," he said.

Gray began his career in 1989 as a firefighter with the Rural Metro Fire Department and was one of the original 20 municipal fire personnel hired when the Town of Gilbert began its own fire department in June 1993. He served as an assistant fire chief in Gilbert for eight years before coming to Queen Creek.

Gray joined Queen Creek Fire and Medical in January 2014 and served as the deputy fire chief organizing and directing the activities of the Operations Division. He was promoted to fire chief in July 2018. The Operations Division delivers fire and emergency medical services directly to the citizens of the town. The division consists of three battalion chiefs and 42 captains, engineers and firefighters.

Gray has an associate’s degree in fire science and a bachelor's degree in emergency services administration. He is a resident of Queen Creek. He lived in Gilbert when he was serving that town.

"I have a strong desire to serve in the community I live in," he said. "You never know how important that is until you're immersed in it."