KAYSVILLE -- The nameplate beside the door of the fire marshal/deputy fire chief's office in the Kaysville Fire Station will soon be replaced. Fire Marshal/Deputy Fire Chief James (Jim) Dotson is retiring after 46 years with the department.
It has been a great journey for Dotson, who started his career as a volunteer firefighter a year after he moved to Kaysville. He has watched the department grow from a small volunteer department to one that is staffed 24 hours a day.
"It's time for someone else to have fun," Dotson said while seated behind the desk in his office.
Dotson was born in Minersville, Utah. During World War II, Geneva Steel was built and his dad took a job there, moving his family to Springville.
Dotson moved to Kaysville with his wife, Zada, in 1966 and joined the fire department in 1967.
He worked at Hill Air Force Base before retiring in 1993, after serving in the military and in electronics at HAFB for a combined 30 years.
"When I joined the fire department, it was 100 percent volunteer," said Dotson. "I always wanted to be in service to the community. Paul Bylund introduced me to the fire department. I attended a meeting and really liked it."
During his firefighting career he served in many positions. In 1970, he was the training officer; in 1976, he became the assistant chief; and in 1978, he became the fire chief. He served as chief until 1982, when he had heart surgery, which involved four bypasses. Because of the stress of his job, Dotson made the decision to step down from being chief.
"One interesting thing is that, when I was hired as a volunteer, Jim was the chief," said Fire Chief Brett Larkin. "When Jim took over, the training requirements changed."
According to Larkin, Dotson wanted the men to have outside training, and he saw to it that they got it.
"At that time the department was in transition, Jim set the standards for what it is today."
In 1988, Dotson became the deputy chief and fire marshal.
"Jim reinvented the whole fire department. All through the years, he was looking for ways to make things better," Larkin said. "He is always active and energetic and innovative."
Dotson said Kaysville Fire Department protects about 33,000 people, because it provides service not only to Kaysville but also to Fruit Heights and to the unincorporated area of Mutton Hollow.
Dotson loves the community he serves.
"My favorite thing is the camaraderie with the firefighters and the service to the community," he said. "We have such good citizenry here in Kaysville. They are conscientious people who take care of their homes and yards."
There are very few house fires in Kaysville, and Dotson said it is because of the people who live here, because of the enforcement of the fire code and because open burning is controlled.
"In the time I have been here, there have been three fatalities from fires," he said. "And those were years ago. It's been a pretty safe community."
He will celebrate his 75th birthday this month and feels it is time to leave.
And Larkin agrees, saying, "It is time for him to enjoy life. He left really big shoes to fill. Jim has always been there to help. He has been on the front line, working since he started, and he hasn't slowed down."
Dotson and his wife are the parents of four children -- three daughters and a son. His son, Jim Dotson Jr., is following in his footsteps. The younger Dotson is a full-time firefighter and paramedic for Ogden City Fire Department, and he also works part-time for Kaysville City Fire Department. He started his career in Kaysville as did many other firefighters.