A burning desire to inspire
Oregon's chief deputy state fire marshal and Woodburn native Mariana Ruiz-Temple has been busy the last couple of summers, as fire season grows more intense each year.
Ruiz-Temple oversees a large part of the state's fire prevention services, from mobilizing and coordinating agencies during wildfires to securing funding and dealing with the legislature. She never thought she'd be working so high up the chain of command with the state's fire prevention services.
Ruiz-Temple is from Woodburn originally, and got her start in fire prevention services through a class conducted by the Woodburn Fire District at Woodburn High School. She learned the theory of fire prevention and response, and when she graduated in 1992 she knew she wanted to go into the fire service.
After two years of study at Chemeketa Community College, Ruiz-Temple heard about an opening with the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office. She applied and got the job.
Ruiz-Temple has moved on from Woodburn, and was named chief deputy in 2014 after 20 years of service with the state fire marshal's office, but she still has family in Woodburn and remembers growing up in Woodburn fondly.
"In the summer we would get on bikes, ride to the swimming pool, run all over town," she remembered
Ruiz-Temple's mother, who recently passed away, was a secretary at Lincoln Elementary for 30 years, and her father traveled to Woodburn from Texas in the '60s to work in agriculture. Ruiz-Temple said she has always particularly valued Woodburn for its multi-cultural community.
"One of the coolest things is that we are a tri-cultural community. I love the fact that on the fire engines (in Woodburn) it says bomberos, it says firefighter in three different languages," Ruiz-Temple said.
Longtime Fiesta Mexicana volunteer organizer Elida Sifuentez is Ruiz-Temple's aunt, and Ruiz-Temple said she was drafted to take part in countless local events and parades, from Fiesta Mexicana to Hop Fest.
"My parents were always putting us on some sort of float, or I was always carrying some sort of flag," Ruiz-Temple said.
Ruiz-Temple still visits her family in Woodburn and occasionally runs into Woodburn firefighters while coordinating state wide fire responses. Last week, Ruiz-Temple was in Woodburn speaking to several local Girl Scout troops, and said she hopes that she sets a strong example for future women firefighters.
"It was empowering to see those girls. Maybe they will want to do what I did, and be leaders," Ruiz-Temple said.
Her family taught her to be confidant and aim high, and gave her the courage to break the stereotype that fire prevention is a male profession, Ruiz-Temple said.
"I'm grateful for my family that gave me the ability to go out there, and grateful the struggles they had before me," she said.
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