Park City Fire District Fire Marshal Scott Adams blazes a trail
Adams, who joined the district 1996 to help prepare for the Winter Olympics, is retiring
Fire fighting has been a part of Park City Fire District Fire Marshal Scott Adams’ life for as long as he can remember.
Adams, who also serves as the assistant fire chief for the district, said his father was a fire chief and several cousins who were also part of fire crews while he was growing up.
“I guess I have been fighting fires since 1964 when I could ride my tricycle down to the station,” Adams said.
After slightly more than 20 years at the helm of the Fire District’s code enforcement and special event planning, Adams recently announced his retirement.
Earlier this week, about 300 of his colleagues, friends and family joined him at the Fire District’s administrative building to mark the occasion.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Adams said in an interview with The Park Record on Thursday. “When I first started here, we didn’t have the big high-rise buildings and subdivisions. It has been fun taking the knowledge I have learned in my fire protection career to apply that here in the community to make it safe.”
Joining the family business
In 1978, Adams joined the South Salt Lake City Fire Department as a firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT). He worked at the station part time while also going to Westminster College to earn a degree in fire protection engineering. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1987.
Adams said he briefly worked in the private sector as a consultant until realizing he missed the fire service industry. He worked in the state fire marshal’s office as chief fire protection engineer before joining the Park City Fire District as fire marshal in 1996 under former fire chief Kelly Gee to help the district prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“You can’t imagine it unless you experience it,” Adams said. “It was fun and the Olympics happened so fast, but it was great and I was able to work with a great bunch of people.”
Establishing safety provisions
When Adams joined Park City’s team, the district had three fire stations and limited manpower, which he described as one of the biggest challenges they faced.
“We had to build in safety provisions into the buildings and we required things like additional equipment caches,” Adams said. “We also lobbied to get all of our buildings fire sprinklers and worked a lot with the state Legislature. We have had good working relationship with the homeowners associations and builders to make sure codes are met.
“The most important job in the fire department is fire prevention and our biggest charge is we want to make sure everyone is safe who comes to visit us and lives here,” he said.
20 years worth of memories
During his tenure, Adams has made countless memories and life-long friends in the industry. He recalled a time before open burning was allowed and a resident called him out of frustration.
“He kept calling me King Scott because I was making all these rules that he couldn’t burn and I just kept laughing and he kept getting more mad,” Adams said with a laugh.
However, Adams admitted he also encountered unfortunate incidents throughout his career that required a little “soul searching.”
“We have had a couple of fire deaths and I guess I felt bad for that even though there was really nothing that we could have done,” he said.
Leaving his mark
Paul Hewitt, Park City Fire District chief, who has worked with Adams since 2011, said he “basically set up all of the fire code enforcement.” Hewitt said Adams is largely responsible for the district’s success.
“A lot of the construction in the Snyderville Basin, the residential sprinkler systems and code, he has his fingerprint on basically all of it,” Hewitt said. “Anyone that knows Scott knows he is not a hard guy to get to know. He has not just been a coworker, but also a friend and he will definitely be missed. He definitely leaves a mark. We will miss him.”
Mike Owens, who has been selected as Adams’ replacement, remembers when he taught one of his classes during boot camp when he joined the district more than a decade ago. Owens said Adams has done an incredible job in reducing the number of fires and fire-related deaths in the district.
“He’s had a big part in that,” Owens said. “One of the things I have heard over and over again from fire marshals throughout the state people is that I have some big shoes to fill. I would hear time after time how lucky I was to be able to be trained by him. He is so well respected and he is so well liked, I hope I can close to being what he is.
Adams will officially step down from his position July 15 to join a private firm as its fire and life safety consultant. He said “it’s just a time in my life and I had another opportunity available for me.”
While Adams admitted he will miss the job, scenery and people, he also said he is looking forward to spending time with his wife of nearly 30 years, Rebecca. He added, “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to do what I did. She was able to keep house and our three boys under control.”
Adams thanked his coworkers over the years for their unwavering support and, above all, friendship.
“If it hadn’t been for all of them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Adams said. “I have made some great friendships. It’s been great. What I have always said about code enforcement is the more you learn, the less you know.”
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