Employee well-being is top priority for new UFA fire chiefNov 01, 2022 07:04PM ● By Cassie Goff
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Meet Fire Chief Dominic Burchett: the 14th fire chief for Unified Fire Authority (UFA) within their 100-year history.
Beginning his career in 1997, Burchett worked as a wildland firefighter before being hired as a full-time structural firefighter in 2001. He has spent the last 20 years as a paramedic, engineer, captain, division chief over the wildland program, and assistant chief over support services.
When Burchett is not fighting fires, he can be found spending time outdoors with his wife and five children. They particularly enjoy hiking, biking, hunting and skiing together.
“My beautiful wife Jillian is a veterinarian, so she keeps bringing pets home,” Burchett said. “We have too many animals to count; everything from a frog to a hunting dog, and chickens in between.”
Burchett was appointed as UFA’s Fire Chief in April of this year. The first thing he did was lay out an 100-day plan. “What I hoped to accomplish within those first 100 days was to get out and visit everyone,” he said.
There are 24 different fire stations on three different platoons throughout UFA’s service area. Visiting each of those stations took Burchett the majority of those 100 days. As his plan has now morphed into more of a 200-day plan, he is working to meet all the members of the councils for each of the municipalities UFA services.
During his visits, Burchett hoped to get a sense for the problems and issues UFA faces today. He thought he had a pretty good sense of what to expect before each visit and was pleased to hear that most of the problems expressed was already anticipated.
“My plan moving forward is to prioritize and act on all the information that I’ve gathered. The three-year plan is to readjust, reevaluate, and plan for the future within a five-year plan,” Burchett said.
Burchett has identified three critical areas he plans to focus on during his tenure as fire chief. Those three areas include health and well-being, staying relevant in the areas UFA serves, and continuous improvement within the organization.
“In the history of the fire service, health and well-being has been a reactive type of action. We see more cancer and we put in cancer initiatives. We see more suicide and we put in emotional and mental health resources. I hope to be able to focus on those proactively and make sure our people stay as healthy as they can,” Burchett said.
The No. 1 priority for Burchett will be focusing on how to keep each of the 694 people within UFA healthy. The State Legislature recently passed legislation requiring UFA to provide behavioral health to retirees for three years after retirement. Burchett hopes to prolong providing those resources for retired first responders.
As UFA services 15 different communities, Burchett wants to stay well-informed on all the complex neighborhoods. UFA serves 15 different communities including: the townships of Copperton, Emigration, Kearns, Magna, and White City; the towns of Alta and Brighton; the cities of Cottonwood Heights, Eagle Mountain, Herriman, Holladay, Midvale, Millcreek, Riverton, Taylorsville; and the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County.
“We need to know the neighborhoods and streets so we can provide the best service,” Burchett said.
Burchett stressed to the Cottonwood Heights City Council to keep communication open in regard to what is needed from their local fire department. He encouraged the council to share information with their liaison Assistant Chief Riley Pilgrim to bring back anytime.
“We love our assistant chief,” said Mayor Mike Weichers. “We are the only city with an assistant chief as our liaison and we take pride in that. We appreciate what he does for us.”
Lastly, Burchett would like to stay relevant to the over 450,000 people UFA serves with continuous improvement within the department. He continually mentioned how Chief Dan Peterson (who retired in April this year) left the organization in a healthy place so UFA will be able to prosper into the future.