In the early morning hours of Sunday, May 25, 2015, a member of the Fire Service Family lost his life while performing his duties during a flood event. The responding units were helping remove residents, including children, from a flooded duplex housing complex. This loss is being felt by more than the City of Claremore Fire Department Members.
I had the honor of being introduced to Jason Farley a little over 20 years ago by his then-girlfriend and soon-to-be wife, Shelli. After meeting him, we all discussed him taking part in the Claremore Fire Department Entrance Exam Process. The process was difficult and very competitive, as is evident by the quality of firefighters on the Claremore Fire Dept. Jason did take the entrance process in stride with more than 130 other applicants. Jason did exceptionally well in each stage of the testing process and a couple of months later, I was honored to call and offer Jason a position here at Claremore Fire.
Jason never disappointed while I had the opportunity to work with him. He would become passionate about something, but never with disrespect no matter who he was talking to. Jason sincerely loved the fire service and the people with whom he worked. He always strived to be the best at whatever task he was facing.
One of the areas in which he executed at a very high level was pranks and practical jokes. This was an area in which he never failed to strive towards his goal of perfection. He was an equal opportunity prankster and it did not matter if you were the new rookie or the Chief, everyone was open game. He would use that big smile to his benefit; you would not know if he was just in a good mood or if you were going to receive a bucket of water on your head when you opened the door.
I sincerely feel blessed to have been able to know Jason and Shelli. I was able to feel and see the happiness in both his and Shelli’s faces when he was told he was hired. When he came in the office announcing he was a father. The first time he came in to show off his new girl. As the years passed, he still had the smile and proud eyes whenever talking about his daughter.
Jason accomplished what many only strive to do. All of us who were lucky enough to have known him and his family are better for that. Those who worked with him will gradually fill some of the empty spots with pleasant memories and thanks for the time we were able to share with him. The new firefighters will hear about Jason for many years to come and even though they will not have had the honor of meeting him personally, they will have his memory embedded in their minds.
Please remember in your hearts and prayers Jason’s Family, the Fire Department Family, and please remember the families of the Claremore Fire Department members, be it their Children, Wives, Husbands, Parents, or others. Many times we forget the worry these family members face each time they hear a siren. When a tragedy like this happens, their fears are elevated but they try to keep their elevated stress hidden while showing so much genuine concern for the Farley family, and the rest of the Department Members. Just taking a moment to tell a Firefighter’s Child or Spouse “thank you” for all they go through and sacrifices they make so their Spouse can serve the public. Just one time do this and see how it lights up their faces to see that they are appreciated also.
Jason’s days of helping the public and bringing comfort to his family and those who he worked with are far from over. He will always remain in the daily thoughts of his family. The family will continue to see the impact he has made on the lives of so many, some who never had the pleasure to meet him. Things he had experienced including this tragedy will cause change to protect not only the firefighters, but the public as well.
Many people are saying Captain Farley is a hero for his actions the other night and his loss of life. Captain Farley was not a hero because of this tragedy; he was a hero the day that he was sworn into the Claremore Fire Department and dedicated his life to providing the best possible service he could to the citizens of Claremore. If you don’t think that is right, ask his daughter; I bet if you would have asked her the same question 10 years ago, she would give you the same answer. Sincere Firefighters do not join the profession to be able to walk around and say they are a hero. They chose this career because it was something they desired to do and hopefully make a positive difference due to their actions and truthfully, it is exciting. There are very few things in life that can make you feel as good as making a positive impact in someone’s life.
Please be safe and take a moment to appreciate those who make a difference in your life.
Claremore Fire Dept
Chief (Retired 2001)