Claire Fuller

“It’s been so fun connecting that sense of childlike wonder that I had growing up… and getting to pay that back is amazing.”

Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller

Volunteer FFI/EMT

Station 2: Wilson

Where are you from? Here! I was born in Jackson. I am one of those weird local kids whose grandparents moved here in the 40s/50s. 

What is your role in the department? I am a volunteer out of Station 2. 

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? I joined right before COVID hit, so a little over 3 years. I did some basic first aid training when I was in college because I worked doing forestry research. I had a lot of exposure to wildland fire including one that nearly burned down my childhood home. My husband worked for the city of Flagstaff wildland fire crew and we knew lots of wildland folks, so all of those things got me to join.

Was there anything else that made you want to join? I grew up in Wilson, so I always knew there was a volunteer fire department in town. It was always something I had in the back of my mind. As a kid, there were no girls, and I think I was pretty aware of that by middle school. It was always in the back of my mind…then Katie Davis joined Station 2 and I saw Dan Long posted an ad on facebook, so I decided to join as well.

What are your current certs? Fire 1 and EMT, Hazmat, and Redcard. 

What are your future goals in the department? I’d like to be a consistent presence at Station 2. We have some more senior members who have given an extraordinary amount of time to the department, and I’d like to have a little bit of longevity there. I’m really fortunate that I have stable housing because Wilson is a particularly hard place to find a place to live.

What do you do for work? I am an attorney. I practice mostly in family law and criminal defense with a little bit of estate planning.

What do you do in your free time? In the wintertime I ski and bicycle and I also mountain bike and run around outside and I cook and I eat. 

What would you say is your favorite part of volunteering? I mean there’s the shiny, flashy stuff, but I think the more compelling part is the relationships with my fellow firefighters and volunteers. Because there’s such a nice joint purpose among everyone.

Is there anything that is particularly challenging? My immediate response, maybe just because I’m currently stuck in traffic, would be responding to calls in Wilson from town because of traffic. I also think that one of the most difficult parts as a newer member is a negative anticipation for the call for someone I know, especially having lots of ties to this community, including aging parents and aging family friends. 

Have you had many of those more difficult calls yet? Because of my professional work, I used to do personal injury litigation, so I dealt with a lot of survivors of trauma… like ‘can you repeat your horribly traumatic experience forty times for me?’ It was especially difficult in family law because there’s lots of incredible emotions that come with that. I have had to create really intense compartmentalization skills but they really help in the short term. Anytime there’s a really traumatic death involved in a call, there’s lots of support within Fire/EMS that comes out. 

What advice would you give new recruits? Ask questions! Volunteer to do the thing that you’re scared of.

What do you wish you had known when starting? I had no idea how much time the training was going to take, and if the world hadn’t shut down, I don’t think I ever would have made it through. Since I’ve joined the department, I switched jobs to one that doesn’t require as much travel and that has helped.

What is the most valuable trait for someone to have in this line of work? The ability to step in when necessary and to step out when necessary and the ability to identify when that is. 

What do you think you bring to the department? Fundamentally, an extra set of opposable thumbs that is really happy to do whatever I’m told. It’s very liberating to be a minion as a release from the rest of my professional life. In some other ways, I think one of the things that I have to offer is to the locals, to the people who have spent their lives here, because I understand them a little better. They have always been here and they are not forgotten. It’s been so fun connecting that sense of childlike wonder that I had growing up surrounding Station 2 and now, getting to pay that back is amazing. The fire department as a whole has been involved in many aspects of my life and now I’m seeing it from both sides on some level, because some of the paramedics that are here now helped treat my grandma back in the 90’s. 

Do you have a mentor in the department? Everyone, I wouldn’t be able to call out a specific person. I also wouldn’t want to.