South Davis fire chief leaving department for job in California

May 5 2013 - 10:59pm

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BOUNTIFUL -- South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jim Rampton was not even out of high school when he was hired as a part-time volunteer firefighter with South Davis Fire District.

Rampton, who began his 27-year-career as a firefighter on May 15, 1986, had decided to follow the footsteps of his father and grandfather before he got his diploma from Bountiful High School.

A few years after he started, Rampton was on duty when a call came in about a burning truck on Interstate 15.

It was one of his "first real calls as a firefighter," he said.

The driver of the truck had led Utah Highway Patrol troopers on a chase and crashed near Centerville. Both the driver and the passenger died in the fiery crash, he said.

Rampton understood that firefighting was not all about extinguishing fires, but interacting with people on one of the worst days in their lives.

He grew up with firefighters. His grandfather, Clifford Rampton, served as chief of the Bountiful City Fire Department from 1952 to 1969, and his father, Robert Rampton, worked for Bountiful City Fire Department and was an assistant chief for the Davis County Fire Department, which became the South Davis Fire District. Rampton's uncle, Jay Rampton, worked for Bountiful Fire Department.

Rampton had at times tagged along with his father and uncle when he was growing up.

Now he's heading to Carpinteria, Calif., where he will work as a battalion chief. He took the job to be near his parents, who moved to California 23 years ago. He and his wife leave behind their adult children, a daughter and a son, who live in Ogden.

Rampton has traveled to California countless times most of his life.

He looks forward to living less than a minute from the beach and plans to learn how to surf.

The Camarillo, Calif., fire that has scorched more than 8,000 acres as of Friday afternoon is only 25 miles from where the Ramptons will be living.

Rampton is pretty certain he will learn more about the fire on his first day on the job in California.

California has a statewide system that allows it to call out numerous firefighters for a wildfire.

Rampton's last day with South Davis Metro is Thursday, and an official farewell party for him is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the fire station, 255 S. 100 West, Bountiful.

Rampton's fire career also included three years as a full-time firefighter with West Valley City Fire Department while working for South Davis Fire District. In 1993 he was one of three firefighters to be hired on full time with South Davis Fire District. When South Davis Fire District merged with the Bountiful City Fire Department in 2005 to form the metro fire agency, Rampton was named as deputy chief.

In 2007 he was named as chief.

Now he leaves at a time when there is talk of forming a new fire district in the southern part of the county. He said he has a great stake in those talks, even though he is leaving.

"I care a great deal about this. The chief who comes after me needs that," he said of the district setup.

Deputy Chief Jim Bassett has been named as interim chief.

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