Fire Chief Todd Parry is excited about the new fire truck at the Salt Lake City refinery. He’s spent hours learning the vehicle and training others to make sure they know it inside and out. He says you must run the truck by habit, so there is no problem during a response.
“When you are in an emergency, you sink to the level of your training,” said Parry. “You don’t do it until you do it right. You do it until you cannot get it wrong. That is how good I have to be. You can’t think about what you are doing, or you will be too slow when it matters most.”
Parry has been the Fire Chief at the Salt Lake City refinery for seven years. He started working at the refinery in 2002 as a process unit operator. In 2008, he became the union health and safety representative and started working with the fire brigade. As the fire chief, his focus is on leading and training his team. His colleagues say he is extremely effective in leading his team – remaining focused and level-headed despite the stressful situations they face. That allows him to make educated decisions and keep others around him moving in the right direction.
“Whether it’s in the union, working with the company, fires or rescue situations, he stays calm,” said Tom Miggin, Health and Safety Representative at the Salt Lake City refinery. “We’ve worked together for 15 years, and you can tell that people love him.”
High-flying passion leads to championship caliber
The dedication that Parry shows to his refinery duties also propelled him to international success outside his profession. In 2017, he was named Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) BMX World Champion. He held the world title in the 50-and-over men’s cruiser class, bikes with 24-inch wheels. This was his second world title; he also won the ABA Vet Pro World Championship in 2005.
“You ask what’s the worst that can happen, and how can I minimize the risk of getting hurt,” Parry said. “The older I get, the more safety is in the back of my mind.”
“When you are in an emergency, you sink to the level of your training. You don’t do it until you do it right. You do it until you cannot get it wrong. That is how good I have to be.”
Parry has been racing since he was 10 years old. He entered national races growing up and planned to turn pro. A crash on the racetrack caused a serious knee injury that almost ended his racing career at age 22. He recovered and started racing again when his son started showing interest in the sport. In 2017, the UCI BMX World Championships were being held in the U.S., and Parry wanted to be a member of Team USA. He hit the tracks to train, signing up for every race he could get in Utah.
“Bicycle motocross is a race that’s a quarter of a mile long and a race lap takes 30-35 seconds. There’s jumps and berms on the track. It’s a full-on sprint,” said Parry. “It’s like running six to eight 200-meter races in a day, and by the end of the day, you are pretty spent.”
When it was time to go to South Carolina for the UCI BMX World Championships and represent Team USA, he felt confident in his training and preparations and was sure he was the favorite going into the competition. He won every race that day besting competitors from Switzerland and France and was named World Champion for his class. Parry is now retired from national competition, but he races a few times a year at local Utah tracks; he also trains local and national riders.
At the refinery, Parry continues to lead with confidence, calm and a focus on safety.
“We have a couple sayings out here at the refinery,” said Parry. “There’s always time to do it right and do it safely, or we don’t do it at all. We are going to do it right and be 100%. As a person, that’s how I give my best effort. I always worked hard to be on top.”