Greg Stensler is Rocklin's top firefighter

By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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Greg Stensler, a member of the Rocklin Fire Department since May 2000, has been named Firefighter of the Year, announced Fire Chief Bill Mikesell last week. “From the day Greg Stensler moved from being an apprentice firefighter to full-time employee, he excelled,” Mikesell said. In fact, on his first day on the job, Mikesell continued, Stensler noticed the fire alarm at an apartment complex was not indicating the correct location when activated. Stensler took it upon himself to provide the department with a detailed analysis of the situation, offered a clear warning and suggested an appropriate solution, Mikesell noted. “Greg has continued to show leadership and has modeled exemplary behavior,” Mikesell said. “His peers took note over the years and this year cast the greatest number of votes for engineer Greg Stensler as Firefighter of the Year. I agree!” It’s all in a day’s work as far as Stensler is concerned. In fact, there is no other career he would prefer. “Just having a job I can wake up every morning and actually enjoy going to,” he explained. “Right now I’m happy where I’m at, but I’m trying to set myself up for advancement.” An only child, Stensler, 38, grew up learning HAM Radio operations from his father, often joining him on Search and Rescue operations. He began pursuing a career in fire service while in high school, entering the Regional Occupation Program and training with the Sacramento County Fire Department. After graduation from San Juan High School in 1995, Stensler attended Yuba Fire Academy. He volunteered for Yuba College Fire Department’s sleeper program and in 1998 became a volunteer firefighter with Dry Creek Fire Department. The same year he joined the Rocklin Fire Department as an apprentice firefighter, Stensler married his high school sweetheart, Sunnybre. They now have two sons: 7-year-old Wyatt and 5-year-old Owen. He was hired as a full-time career firefighter in 2002 and was promoted to engineer in 2005. Stensler appreciates the working atmosphere within Rocklin’s fire department. “It is a smaller, active department where everybody knows everybody,” he said. “If you need help, somebody there can help you. The fire department is definitely not an individual effort.” That support has helped as he continues his arson and fire investigation studies at Sierra College as well as through the National Fire Academy. “With the crew that I have, they help me out tremendously by reminding me to sign up for classes,” he said. On the home front, he’s thankful for an understanding wife. “Sometimes I have to travel to attend these classes, which takes me away from family,” he said. In addition to his fire investigator duties, Stensler manages the department’s Tools and Equipment Program. For several years now, Stensler has spearheaded the department’s participation in the annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser to find a cure for childhood cancer. While waiting in line to have his head shaved one year, Stensler began talking with a mother also waiting to get her head shaved. “Her son, Caleb, had been diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “We started exchanging e-mails.” After Caleb completed his last round of chemotherapy, Stensler invited the family to dinner at the station, gave them a tour and presented the youth with a fire hat. “The family really enjoyed it,” he said. “It gave them a chance to have some fun.” Outside of the department, Stensler volunteers at his son’s school and enjoys taking his Jeep on four-wheeling adventures. As Rocklin’s Firefighter of the Year, Stensler has also been nominated for the statewide J. Edgar Hoover Gold Medal Award, presented annually by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.