Employee Spotlight: Firefighter James Mach

Employee Spotlight

Person: Senior Firefighter James Mach 

Shift: Station 31, C-Shift

Education: Juanita High, Some Bellevue Community College

Specialties: Ladder Truck Driver, Lead Extrication Technician, Technical Rescue Team  

Why did you get into the fire service?

I was rebellious as a kid, and to help combat that, my grandma forced me into a fire camp in the 8th grade. The camp was hosted in Kirkland. I remember they let us cut cars, learn search and rescue tactics, and put out small fires. I fell in love with it and started volunteering around the station after that.

When I was ten, my dad and grandfather both passed away. The fire service, in a way, really raised me. The men at the Kirkland station stepped up and helped me through it. They let me come down and be a part of the station and crew.  Now, I get to work with some of them and see them on occasion. It’s pretty special. 

I was a Fire Explorer for three years here in Woodinville, and eventually, Woodinville Fire & Rescue sponsored me to go through the Fire Academy. Now, I am lucky to be a firefighter here. 

What is your biggest personal challenge about being a firefighter?

I am a Type I Diabetic. That requires some planning on my part. I have had doctors in the past who said I couldn’t be a firefighter. They said it would be too hard on a diabetic body. That just motivated me. It encouraged me to become a firefighter and excel at it; I took it as a personal challenge.

Now, I volunteer at Camp Leo. Camp Leo is an overnight camp dedicated to Type 1 Diabetes. I want the kids at the camp to know it’s possible to do what you want in life, no matter what that is.

What would you want people to know about firefighting? 

Anyone can train and learn firefighter skills and tactics, but it takes a special kind of person to care in situations where others may not. For example, I was on a 72-hour shift, and we had a woman call who needed help carrying her groceries at 2:00 a.m. That call may not have been an emergency, but you do what you can with a smile on your face because you know you’re making a difference in their life.

What do you value about the fire service? 

I love having the opportunity to help people when they have a hard time or on their worst days. I like being a part of something that makes their day better. We get to use unique tools and fun toys, but ultimately, it comes down to helping people.

Do you have a memorable call that comes to mind? 

A few years ago, we helped a kid who wiped out on a bike, we were expecting it to be a lot worse, and luckily, it was not. He was so upset. We let him know we were using the best band-aids we had, and he stopped crying. Once everyone was calm, he asked for a tour of the truck. Before we left, he said he wanted to be a firefighter. You could see it in his eyes. It reminded me of the passion I had as a kid to become a fireman. 

What do you enjoy about being a part of the Woodinville Community?

How friendly everyone is in this community. My absolute favorite thing to do is to wave to people in our community, kids and adults. I have fun doing it, and it always brings a smile to my face and theirs.