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Fire Safety Professional Ashley HesterWhat is your position at UNC-Chapel Hill, and how long have you been associated with the University?

I am a Fire Safety Professional (Fire Marshal) and have been with the University for a little over 5 years.

How did you initiate your career in this field or what led you to your current position?

I was a firefighter for 12 years prior to coming to UNC.  I always enjoyed the prevention and education component of that job.  So when the opportunity to come to UNC in a fire prevention and education role occurred, I jumped at the opportunity.

Which sectors of the University does your role impact, and in what ways does it contribute to those areas of work?

My role impacts all sectors of the University from teaching student Residential Assistants (RAs) and Teaching Assistants how to use a fire extinguisher to faculty, staff and even visitors on emergency action plans (evacuation routes, assembly points, shelter-in-place areas).  We (fire safety/EHS) comprise the Emergency Response Team for the University that responds to all hazardous incidents on campus.  Our role engages all sectors across the University.

Describe what you love most about your job.

I love that days can be very dynamic where we have a hazardous material release and mitigating that incident to administrative days filled with scheduling training and completing reports.  The most “interesting” aspect has been conducting campus building safety inspections and finding items that we’d only see in the movies now.

What advice do you have for those interested in entering a career in your line of work?

I would recommend gaining experience in emergency response, especially having knowledge and exposure to hazardous material incidents. Then the realization that this is a team effort, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from the resources that surround you.  They will help you and you could learn something in the process.