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Meet Our Recruiting Team

Ashlee Vercler

Urbana Firefighter since 2011
"Without question, 'exceptional' is the best way to describe this job."

Your background: where are you from? What did you do before you became a Firefighter at the City of Urbana? What else would you like people to know about you?

I am originally from Pekin, Illinois.  I moved to Champaign County in 2001 with my son Gage (then 4 years old) in order to be close to my sister, her husband, and my newborn niece.  I earned my associates degree in Criminal Justice while helping to care for the new addition to our family. I was hired by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office in 2005 as a Court Security Deputy.  I was living in Mahomet and raising my son, so the hours were perfect for me as a single mom, especially once my sister and her growing family decided to move back to Tazewell County. Lots of changes! My son and I missed my nieces fiercely, and it became clear that as important as our police officers are, being “on the road” would not be continue to be a good fit for me.

At the Sheriff’s Office, I met several officers who were volunteer firefighters, and the more I heard, the better this job, (or calling, as it is for many) began to sound.  Around 2008, I heard an ad on the radio that Urbana Fire Department was taking applications, and I jumped on it.  During the time I was on the eligibility list, I decided to return to school to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  In 2011, Urbana invited me to interview for the job.  Weeks later, my son began his first year of high school and I was walking in to my first day of fire academy.  I have since earned my MBA and love my job more every shift.

What originally interested you about a career in the Fire Service?

I like the idea of helping people.  We go in, do our jobs, and leave.  Most of us are uncomfortable with accolades or attention, though we are, of course, very appreciative when someone sees us in public and wants to thank us for what we do.  It is amazing work and unlike anything else out there.  Without question,  “exceptional” is the best way to describe it.


What do you like best about your job?

The challenges, both physical and mental, are so unique.  You can never be prepared enough, and nothing is ever quite like you think it will be.  Knowing that, we train, learn, and research everything from equipment to techniques to emergency medicine to be as prepared as possible.  I would argue that Urbana firefighters are about the best at what we do.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career as a Firefighter?

Want it.  Make sure you want it.  If you don't want this job for the right and best reasons, you will be miserable because the fit is bad.  However if it is your passion, you will experience no greater resolve and satisfaction than you will as an Urbana firefighter.


Phil Edwards

Urbana Firefighter since 1996
Watch Fire Marshal Edward's fire service story:

Read more about Fire Marshal Edwards in the News-Gazette and  Journal Gazette & Times Courier

Josh Ingold

Urbana Firefighter since 2014

I was born and raised in Fisher, Illinois but I now reside in rural Philo, Illinois.  Before I began working at the City of Urbana I worked as an EMT-basic at Professional Ambulance in Champaign, Illinois as well as Gibson Area Ambulance Service.  Also, during my time on the ambulance and at the City of Urbana I was in the Illinois Army National Guard.

I was first exposed to the fire service while living in Fisher.  I was able to join the department as a volunteer and start the initial training to see if I liked the work.  I was immediately drawn to it because of the challenging work, both physically and mentally.  The longer I worked, the more I enjoyed the team aspect and comradery you build with the other firefighters.

The best part of my job is the second family you are able to build while working with your coworkers.  Not only do you run emergency calls and depend on each other, but you get to know them on a personal level during other tasks during the day.  Whether it’s cooking a meal, cleaning the station, training, working out or doing fire inspections you do it together. That creates a family atmosphere.


The most challenging aspect of my work is the fact that your day is unknown.  When you come into work there will be a few things that are planned, this could be training, inspections, equipment maintenance or many other possibilities. Everything else in your day is unknown. The emergency calls you run vary greatly and could happen at any time during your shift.   This is also a positive, since every day is different it keeps you from getting bored or complacent.

If you are considering a career as a firefighter the best thing you can do is go do ride time.  Get into a firehouse, ask questions and observe what a typical day is like and see if it is for you.  You can also look up information for firefighter applicants to see what it takes to apply for a job, such as physical ability tests and written exams.

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