CPS officer seconds as firefighter

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Campus Public Safety (CPS) Officer, Jason Lawson, does more than it would appear. Officer Lawson became a CPS Officer through his former Fire Chief who used to work at Pacific University as a manager.

As the Fire Prevention Coordinator, Officer Lawson sets fire drills, maintains the fire extinguishers, performs inspections, and much more but he is also a firefighter.

“I started volunteering right out of high school,” Said Lawson. “I’ve been doing firefighting stuff for almost 20 years.” His uncle, who was a career firefighter in Milwaukee, Wisc., inspired him into pursuing firefighting. “He’d always bring me to the fire station and bring me hats and badges. It sparked my interest.”

The two positions complement each other very

well. In the case of an emergency, Lawson is usually able to respond first since he’s already on campus. He can utilize what he’s learned as a firefighter (first aid among other skills) and his knowledge of the campus layout ensures that incoming firefighters know exactly where to go.

Last winter when a waterline broke in McCormick Hall, Lawson, though he was firefighting at the time, rode in other firefighter on the truck.

“I was able to get there and knew where the water shutoff was and how to shut off the alarm and stuff like that. It’s great because I’m like the liaison between the two departments,” said Lawson.

The schedules do not conflict as often as they would seem. The fire department is mostly part-time for Lawson. Much of his duties to the fire station comes through pagers and he is able to respond from home rather than physically being at the station all the time.

“I can’t really leave here [Pacific University] because there’s always got to be somebody here in CPS but if it’s within the time I’m getting off work, I’ll

usually go over there straight from home or straight from here.”

The Fire Station requires its firefighters to come in at least 24 hours each month. Lawson has had years to perfect balancing the two and he says most of it is scheduling. He fulfills both the training and time requirements for firefighting on his off-days or vacation time and still manages to volunteer for at least 48 hours a month on the Coast.

He loves working with the people–staff, students, and professors–though Officer Lawson admits that it does take a toll on his family.

Firefighting is his hobby and it’s too important to stop doing either job at the moment but he’s recently switched to the Graveyard shift.

Now he’ll be able to get home in time to see his children off to school and wake up when it’s time to pick them up.

“You’re here to serve and make sure everybody’s safe and gets home and provide as much as you can,” said Lawson.


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