by Michele Newbern Gillis
Though firefighting and real estate seem like an unlikely pair, for Jack Bradley, it was all in the family.
His father, Reese Bradley, did exactly the same thing.
Bradley has been a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Walter Williams for 17 years in addition to fighting fires for the past 34 years.
“My dad started with Walter Williams when he first started the business so I grew up with it,” said Bradley, who lists and sells residential and commercial real estate. “My dad was also on the Jacksonville Fire Department. I kind of grew up in the real estate business and the fire department, so I took over his clients when he retired from real estate. I just followed along in his footsteps.”
Given a fire department schedule of 24 hours on and 48 hours off (unless they are called for overtime,) Bradley has quite a juggling act going.
“I basically have to schedule everything around the fire department,” said Bradley. “If it is a real big deal involving a lot of money, I can take a ‘personal day’ off. But, I really try to schedule my closings and all my showings when I am off. I work at the fire department one day and the other two I devote to real estate. If I get called for overtime — that’s hard to turn down — I just have to do the juggling act with it.”
But, he said, he really enjoys the fire department schedule, because it basically allows him to have another career.
“I pretty much set my own hours here in the real estate business,” he said. “Along with the fire department schedule that works out great. You do have to work your schedule to suit your client’s schedule. That’s the only way to be successful. I mean, they’ll just go somewhere else because there are thousands of agents.”
He started driving a rescue unit on the Westside and did that for for 16 years.
“When the city first started rescue, I was one of the first ones involved in it,” he said. “I had only been on the job for six months. The chief came to me and told me to bring in a white shirt with me to work the next day because I was going into rescue. I said I didn’t want to go into rescue because I didn’t know anything about and he told me I was going to learn. They didn’t ask you. Back then, they just told you.”
He then moved onto the telesquad — also at Station 22 — which is a combination ladder truck and engine for the next 17 years.
“That’s a running, running, running company there,” he said. “We had 340 runs a month and I’d come in here sometimes and put my head down on my desk and they’d have to wake me up when I had a call.”
Bradley is currently stationed at the Cecil Field station, where the runs are minimal. He has been there for almost a year is happy for the break and will retire from the fire department in a year and seven months.
“In real estate, I am considered part-time, but I work full-time,” he said. “That’s the best part about Cecil Field. I have a fax machine and I can do everything from there to set up my next two days. They are very tolerant of it out there, but when the bell rings, we have to go.”
Having the fire department connection really is a plus when it comes to networking.
“I do a lot of work for the fire department and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “I know so many of them from when I was in rescue. I also get a lot of business from my wife’s work at St. Vincent’s Hospital.”
His wife, Karen, works in the emergency room, which is where he met her 25 years ago when he was in rescue.
They have been married for 23 years. In addition to his busy career in real estate and fighting fires, he also has a 10-year-old daughter, Brooke, who keeps him busy.
“We started parenting late in life,” said Bradley. “I was 48 when we had Brooke. Boy, does it change your life. Everything revolves around that little girl now.”
When he’s not working, he enjoys offshore fishing, target shooting and going to the beach.
“We rent a condominium in St. Augustine Beach every year,” he said.