From Serving Country To Serving Rim



Except for his world travels in the Navy and a few years in California, John Wisner has spent most of his life in the Payson area. His current job is protecting the area and its residents as a paramedic and captain on the Diamond Star Fire District and Fire Marshal of Star Valley.

Wisner's family goes back generations in the area.


John Wisner

"I came to this area a long time ago," Wisner said. "My parents bought land in this area in 1969. My father was raised by his stepfather here in the 50s. He attended Julia Randall with Judge Ronnie McDaniel.

"In 1970 we moved up here and started at Julia Randall and I was in the same class as Tony McDaniel and now Tony's son goes to school with my son -- three generations."

After graduating from Payson High School in 1981, Wisner joined the Navy.

"I decided to join the Navy in 1983 and spent the next four years traveling and seeing the world," Wisner said. "I married my wife, Patty, and left the Navy a year later, but I joined the reserves."

When Wisner and his wife started their family while living in San Diego, they realized that Rim country is where they really wanted to be.

"It was hard to make a living in the San Diego," Wisner said. "We both had to work. I would work nights, my wife worked days and we were handing our son off like a football. We started thinking about what kind of place was best to raise our kids because where we were living, it wasn't a matter of whether your kids would get into a gang, it was which gang."

After the Rodney King incident and the riots that followed, Wisner and his wife decided they needed to move.

"We sold everything and came home," Wisner said. "We bought a trailer and lived on my parent's land."

Having learned some skills in the Navy, Wisner began volunteering with the Diamond Star Fire District.

"I felt fairly comfortable dealing with emergencies and I thought I might be of some use," he said. "I also had my own business repairing office equipment and appliances."

Soon, he was getting certified as a First Responder, an EMT, then a paramedic and going to a variety of training throughout the year.

"I tell people that I've gone from fixing things to fixing people," Wisner said.

When Fire Chief Gary Hatch needed someone to assist him with code enforcement, Wisner stepped up to the plate.

"Inspections and code enforcement was becoming more of an issue here in Star Valley and the chief was doing everything and decided he needed some help," Wisner said. "I was willing to come in a couple days a week to assist him with those duties.

"I slid into the position of fire inspector. That eventually grew into a full-time job."

Throughout this time, Wisner was attending training on fire inspection and investigation and went to the National Fire Academy in Maryland twice.

"I cannot remember a six-month period when I have not attended a school," he said."The last time I went (to the National Fire Academy), I went through an arson investigation school," Wisner said.

Although Wisner has investigated some fires he calls ‘suspicious,' they never resulted in charges, he said.

"Arson can be difficult to prove," he said. "A lot of time it comes down to a person confiding in the wrong person and then they get prosecuted for it."

As fire marshal, Wisner said his main goal is to make his community safe.

"What we are looking for in fire prevention is to make sure that the commercial buildings and occupancies are safe for customers to come and go," Wisner said. "We try to keep on top of the churches and businesses, but we are at a point now that our existing businesses are, for the most part, compliant."

Most of the calls that Wisner responds to are medical in nature.

"About 80 percent of our calls are medically-related," Wisner said. "That's why all of our shift officers are paramedics."

Wisner said the medical calls are a mixed bag.

"Some of them are age-related illnesses as well as the life-style related situations such as drug overdoses," Wisner said. "It's a mixed-bag."

Wisner said it's the variety in his job that makes it appealing to him.

"I don't like to do the same thing over and over again. I get bored easily," he said.

"Being a firefighter and a paramedic and fire investigator -- I never know what my job is going to be that day when I go to work.

"One day I'm digging people out who have been buried alive and the next day I'm doing paperwork all day."

Sometimes, Wisner has a canine assistant.

"Blackjack is the station dog," he said.

Blackjack is a 1-year-old Dalmatian who guards the station and even rides in the fire truck once in a while.

The people who live in Wisner's fire district and surrounding areas, should feel at ease with a capable department and conscientious captain and fire marshal serving and protecting them.


Name: John Wisner

Occupation: Fire Marshal

Employer: Diamond Star Fire District

Age: 40

Birthplace: Phoenix

Family: Wife, Patty and three sons, Wesley, 12, Joseph, 9, and Jonathan, 8.

Inspiration: My family

Greatest feat: Becoming a paramedic.

My favorite hobby or leisure activity is ... gardening.

The three words that describe me best are ... determined, fair, compassionate

I don't want to brag, but ... I've seen much of the world.

The person in history I'd most like to meet is ... Benjamin Franklin

Luxury defined: Cold beer, comfortable chair, and a backyard BBQ.

Dream vacation spot: Caribbean Islands

Why Payson? Good people, great climate, beautiful scenery, friends and family.

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