Jackson Fire Chief Hansen retires, can’t afford to stay in community

Brady Hansen has led Jackson Hole Fire/EMS for the last five years, but now he’s moving someplace he can afford to retire.
Brady Hansen worked for fire departments during a 30-year career in Utah and Wyoming. (Courtesy of Brady Hansen)

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Housing, Wildfires


Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Chief Brady Hansen retired last week after five years at the department. Hansen grew up in Alta, Wyoming and has spent 30 years working for emergency services, but he can’t afford to retire in Jackson. He and his wife are moving to be with their children in Logan, Utah, where the family can afford to live.

“When the fire chief can’t even dream of affording to buy a home, then none of the firefighters can either, and that’s a super big challenge for our organization,” Hansen said.

Still, Hansen said he’s been grateful for the opportunity to live in Jackson and be part of the community where he grew up.

“It will be the highlight of my career to spend the last five years as the chief there in Jackson,” Hansen said.

He’s especially proud of leading the department through the Covid-19 pandemic, when emergency services were critical to the community. Under Hansen’s leadership, the organization also acquired new wildland fire equipment, raised pay for staff and recruited — and retained — a solid roster of volunteers.

“I think what really stands out to me, above all other things, is the caliber of people that work and volunteer for Jackson Fire/EMS — some of the best people I have ever met and will ever meet in my life,” Hansen said. “Their commitment to the fire service, their commitment to their community, commitment to the ambulance services, [is] just second to none.”

Hansen plans to run a home repair business in Logan, where he can work at a slower pace. Before leaving Jackson, he helped select the new chief, Steve Jellie, who will start on Nov. 7. Jellie is moving from Ogdensburg, New York, where he also acted as fire chief. Until then, Battalion Chief Mike Moyer will serve as interim chief.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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