Red, White, Blue – and Green
BRECKENRIDGE – A lot of patriotism surrounds the Red, White and Blue Fire Department – from its name to its incorporation on the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 – so it was fitting that the board named Gary Green its new chief July 3.
“I’m humbled by the amount of support I’ve received from the community,” Green said. “I knew I had friends around here, but I’m getting stopped in the grocery store, on the street. I’m getting phone calls from people – people I don’t know very well and who I didn’t think knew me – wishing me good luck in this process.”
Green replaces John Moles, who retired in March to pursue other endeavors. He is the fourth chief to serve since the department was established as the Red, White and Blue Fire Department in 1976. Before that, it was the Breckenridge Volunteers.
The board made the announcement to a group of people awaiting the decision at the department Thursday.
Green got involved in the fire business after working a year as an emergency medical technician for the ski patrol at Cuchara Valley ski area in 1985. From there, he went to work for a private ambulance service in Nashville, Tenn., then returned to Colorado to work as a public safety officer, firefighter and EMT for the Copper Mountain Metropolitan District.
He worked his way through the ranks there, then transferred to Lake Dillon Fire Rescue, where he worked for three years as a fire marshal.
In 1997, he and his wife, Kim, and their two sons moved to the Front Range, where Green took a job with the South Metro Fire District – the fastest-growing area in the nation at the time. He was later honored with the South Metro Community Service Award for his work, including conducting inspections for Park Meadows Mall.
Then he got a call from his friends at the Red, White and Blue Fire Department and took a job as a fire marshal, replacing Tom Hronek, who left to start a sign business.
“I missed the operations aspect,” Green said of away from the Red, White and Blue. “The divisions in the fire departments are more structured and separate. Here, people run calls, but they pick up inspections and do public education during their down time.”
Two years ago, Green was named assistant chief, and when Moles retired, he threw his hat in the ring to replace him.
In the past few years, Green has earned an associate’s degree in fire science from Colorado Mountain College.
“I am a product of the Summit Fire Authority,” he said. “I’ve gone from the apprenticeship program, to engineer, officer development. I’m proud of the fire authority and the fact it’s constantly improving.”
Green inherits a fire department composed of young, enthusiastic and ambitious members, and he wants to continue to provide the community with the level of service they have come to expect. In return, he hopes to maintain the respect the community has of the fire department.
“When we’ve needed a new fire truck, the community’s always been there,” Green said. “We don’t want to take that for granted. We want to nurture that support.”
With every new face in fire departments throughout the county comes a shift in how things are done. The Red, White and Blue Fire Department works with all the other departments – Copper Mountain, Lake Dillon and Snake River – to help during large incidents. And some bureaus, including training and fire prevention, have been consolidated to countywide departments.
Green said he expects to see more of that.
“Some day, there will be one fire department in this county,” he said. “We’ll continue work down that road. It’s going to take place gradually; there are so many different entities.”
Green and his wife have four children, Garrison, 16; Justin, 14; Morgan, 5; and Caitlin, 4. They live in Warrior’s Mark.
“I’m ready to get moving,” Green said. “There are a lot of exciting changes going on countywide, and the fire department is a big part of that. It’s a challenge, and I love a challenge.”
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