Behind the bay doors: Summit residents get a peek into the life of a firefighter |

Behind the bay doors: Summit residents get a peek into the life of a firefighter

Breeana Laughlin
Students in the citizens fire academy got an introduction from the chiefs of each of the three fire departments in in Summit County – Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue; Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue; and Copper Mountain Fire Rescue, as well as the Summit County Ambulance Service.
Breeana Laughlin/ |

Participants in the Summit County Citizens Fire Academy got a taste of what it takes to be a firefighter during their first session on Thursday.

A group of 15 locals attempted to set up a hose configuration, connecting it to the engine and unraveling the hose until it reached the end of the parking lot in a team-building scenario at the High Country Training Center.

Participants were broken into three teams, and each team had to rely on one leader to communicate the instructions to the rest of the group. Team leaders used a radio transmitter and a diagram to figure out what needed to be done to complete the hose configuration.

The exercise was designed to help students understand the importance of leadership, communication and problem solving when it comes to fighting fires, organizers said.

“I think you guys did a great job for having never touched this equipment before,” said captain Tyson Houston of the Red, White and Blue Fire Department. “You were able to work through some problems — and it will get better as we go along with the citizens academy.”

Academy students will meet nine times through August and September, gaining more than 30 hours of training from Summit County firefighters and emergency service workers. The students range from professionals in related fields who want to better understand the career, such as Summit County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Tracy LeClair and deputy coroner Regan Wood, to an Argentine transplant to Summit County, an expectant father, a bartender, a retired fire chief and a prospective firefighter.

Students got an introduction from leaders in each of the three fire departments in Summit County: Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue; Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue and Copper Mountain Fire Rescue, as well as the Summit County Ambulance Service.

The speakers outlined the histories and current configurations of their agencies, including governance, facilities, employees and agency accomplishments as well as the organizational and budgetary challenges of working in Summit County. The agencies are responsible for providing consistent and reliable services in a county with a relatively small year-round population that experiences a huge population explosion at certain times of the year.

“During Christmas week we go from a county of 35,000 people to a county of 125,000 people,” said Summit County Ambulance Service director Marc Burdick.

Local ambulance and fire agencies work together closely, along with law enforcement, the U.S. Forest Service and local, county and state governments to provide their services.

“One of the things we hope you are going to see tonight is the value of cooperation and collaboration,” said Dave Parmley, the Lake Dillon Fire Rescue chief. “A lot of other counties look at Summit County to see how they make that happen.

“We have an incredible amount of collaboration, and we are always trying to see how we can further enhance and tap into that and continue to leverage that to the best value to the citizen.”

Next week, Summit County Citizens Fire/EMS Academy participants will tour the communications center, learn about engine/truck company operations and be fitted with personal protective equipment.

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