When I took the California Zephyr from Denver to Granby one Sunday back in late October 2007 is assumed a few things: that I would need my big winter coat, there would be nice walks accessible from the station, that there would be a town with enough to see to keep me occupied for 6 hours until the return train came.
While I lucked out on these things, I did happen to find the grandest fire station known to man. But being a volunteer station no one was around. For a few hours I wandered up and down the nearby picturesque river, watching fisherman, just far enough to keep the fire station is sight. Just in case a firefighter turned up.
Being a volunteer firefighter myself, I know that it is inevitable that on any given day, someone will have some reason to spend some time at the fire station. We are a weird lot.
From my vantage point I could just make out that a guy had turned up to wash his car at the back of the station. Away from public gaze, but but not mine. Like I was stalking prey, I made my way silently along the riverbank to startle Paul sponging down his pickup.
This day my camera clapped out, so I did not document my visit, but you can check out the facts at the website Granby Fire Department
The fraternity of fire fighters is strong. Such that when I used my tried and tested opening line: “Hi, I am Tony from Australia and I am a firefighter” Paul responded “Here mate, here’s the alarm code to the station and the truck keys, take what you want’.
Paul showed me around their humble fire station which had some modest additions following a recent local tax being levied. They now had 5 bays housing two aerial trucks- one a skyjet the other a ladder truck, one Rescue truck, two pumpers, a 6×6 brush truck and two water tankers.
Now this is serious equipment. I did suggest to him that if every one of their 40 fire fighters responded to an emergency call, everyone could get a seat on an appliance!
I reflected on my own fire station back in Australia, where each addition and alteration is marked by different colour bricks, bay roller shutters of different colours and sizes, old windows bricked in or covered by judiciously placed lockers. Granby Fire Station is 5 Star.
They also had a small gym, a recreation room with a pool table, a huge plasma TV, and a training room with seating like a university lecture theatre. Did I also say that they had a 4 storey smoke room/tower set up, with about 500 square metres of hardstand?
See some photos here. Sure the station cost a lot, and I understand drew a bit of controversy. But in reality I would love to serve there.
At the time Paul said that one day, Granby might get some full-time firefighters. They have about 40 volunteers now, so they built a 4 unit townhouse block next to the fire station which is where those full-time firefighters will live (if they ever eventuate). The units are currently rented. I see that now they have introduced a ‘resident fire fighter’ program so some of the units are now housing fire fighters. Sounds like a great scheme.
Paul was a great host for my short visit. Showing me around an explaining the operations of this fire department. The small world that it is, Paul had worked in NSW and Queensland on gas pipelines. He even married an Australian girl from Dubbo!
This was in October 2007. From the Granby Fire Department website, I understand Paul has now retired.