Firefighters go towards danger – Battalion Chief Jeffrey Thomas on Jessop’s Journal


(ABC4 NEWS – SALT LAKE CITY, UT) Imagine not having your sense of sight. Now take away your sense of smell. Let’s take away your sense of taste. Okay, you got that in your mind? Now let’s top it off by putting you in situation surrounded by the roaring flames of fire. That’s what firefighters deal with on a regular basis.

It takes a special person to go towards danger. I’m glad that there are men and women that are willing to put their lives at risk to save other people.

In this episode of Jessop’s Journal I had the pleasure to visit Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey James Thomas.

I’m known as the #tvhatguy. Chief Thomas had on an impression hat on during our interview. He’s also worn a number of hats figuratively. Football helmet, Fireman, Actor, NAACP Public Safety Recognition, Father, Grandfather, Fisherman, and Friend. That’s a pretty nice collection of hats.

Chief Thomas asked me to call him Jeff. Jeff grew up in the Bay Area, specifically in a town called Richmond, California. He told me about growing up in blue collar family and was taught the value of hard work.

He came to Utah to be, as he called it, a “gladiator” in the football stadium of the University of Utah.

When it came to his lifetime of service, he followed in the footsteps of one of his brothers who was a firefighter in California.

Utah has been blessed to have Jeff serving our community for over three decades now.

He told me the story of his first “working fire.” I won’t give away all the details (hint, hint…you need to watch the video) but let’s just say it got a bit intense.

When I was a kid (not it wasn’t when dinosaurs roamed the land), wanting to be a firefighter was up there with wanting to be an astronaut.  I did a story a while back while there was a fire station open house. There was a pretty impressive demonstration of showing what a huge difference that fire sprinklers can make. The fire department even suited me up and let me help put out a fire.  Jeff’s eyes lit up as we described seeing kids in awe. Jeff is especially proud to be an example for kids of color.

Jeff and I met at the NAACP Martin Luther King awards luncheon earlier this year. Come to find out that Jeff is the only black battalion chief in the state of Utah. He is heavily involved in community outreach and encourages more women and people of color to become firefighters.

Jeff also is an actor. His first gig was being involved in a shoe line from Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone.  Jeff has also been in a variety of projects seen on Lifetime, Touched by an Angel, etc. I asked him if he had ever been cast as a firefighter. I was surprised to hear that he had been cast as a police officer, but never a firefighter. OKAY CASTING PEOPLE OUT THERE…if you need a firefighter, I know a guy I can get you in touch with!

I strongly feel that “stories have power”. Chances are that if you are going through something, that someone else probably has as well. The shared experiences we humans have can help each other. That my friend makes the point that stories “help us understand each other.”

You don’t have to agree with everyone, but in my opinion, if people would take more time getting to knowing more about others and where they are coming from, we just might find out that we have more similarities than differences.

Please consider following me at, ,, and

Jessop’s Journal is something special when it comes to broadcast news. I have the honor of being able to do longer in-depth interviews that you don’t normally see with people from all walks of life.

A big shout out goes to my collaborator, Ed Wilets , who does a great job as my videographer/editor for all my stories. I invite you to watch each episode of Jessop’s Journal at and share these stories with your friends and neighbors.  Your feedback is always welcome at

Other episodes of Jessop’s Journal can be seen at and are made possible by the generous support of Rustico, Tailor Cooperative, JW Custom Hats and Ogden’s Own Distillery.

You can also see my positive business profiles called “Utah Success Stories” every Sunday in the ABC4 News at 10 p.m. or online at

Stories have power. They help us understand each other. With another entry into Jessop ‘s Journal, I’m Doug Jessop , ABC4 News. 

Doug Jessop
For Doug Jessop, it all started with a cassette recorder he got for Christmas when he was 12 years old growing up in Southern California. Doug interviewed relatives, friends and anyone else that might have a good story. You can follow Doug at, on, and @DougJessopNews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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