Estes Valley Fire Protection District - Truck

We all have a role to play in the mission to maintain safety

What makes a group of people into a community is the feeling of fellowship with others. It may be common interests or common values – but it’s far greater than just sharing a zip code. A community seeks to assist those in their community and accept assistance from others. A community has a shared set of rules or guidelines to be followed, and everyone is responsible for ensuring those are upheld. We have plenty of areas where we may disagree as a community, and civil discourse on these topics makes our community stronger.

Hopefully, we can agree on the desire for our community to be a safe place to live and visit. How safe is safe enough? How much are we willing to “give up” to be “safe”? That’s certainly a subjective discussion. It’s important to keep in mind that we all have different perspectives on risk depending on our understanding, knowledge, or skills.

As residents of the Estes Valley, you have a different understanding and appreciation of wildfire than someone who lives in a high humidity environment without the constant presence of wildfire.

Here is the challenge for all of us, and it’s important to accept BOTH challenges: hold others accountable for their actions, but do so with grace and understanding, and welcome and accept when others hold you accountable.

In his book Step Up And Lead, retired Deputy Chief Frank Viscuso identifies that if someone is doing something you don’t want them to do, it’s typically for one of three reasons: they are unaware of the expectations, they are unable to do the right thing, or they are unwilling to comply. We’ve all been on both sides of this. If someone is unaware, we have a responsibility to make them aware. If they are unable, we have an opportunity to assist them by providing the tools or knowledge to make it possible. Only when both of those are exhausted can we be sure the problem is their unwillingness – and even that may be because we’ve failed to provide a compelling argument on WHY they should care.

The second challenge helps us solve the first. We must acknowledge that none of us are perfect, and we should welcome feedback to help us be better. It’s never fun to have our shortcomings pointed out to us but being open and receptive helps. Viewing the feedback from another human as it is hopefully intended – to HELP. Why would we respond harshly to someone who was trying to help? Usually, we pull back and resist “help” when it comes packaged in curt and angry direction from another. We discredit their information because of how rude they were in delivering it. I just made a mistake, cut me some slack!

As we think about how we hold others accountable, consider how you’d prefer to be told if you were on the other side of the exchange. When we approach these situations as an opportunity to educate and inform, they tend to have more positive outcomes. Rather than assume someone is out to destroy our community with fire, it’s much more likely that they have a different perception of the risk or are completely unaware of it. This is an opportunity to discuss the risk with them and make them care about protecting our community too.

This is about working together as people who care about this valley for the best possible outcome. This is not a local vs. guest issue. Locals live here because they enjoy this area and want to be part of this community. Those who visit are also here because they enjoy this area and what our community has to offer. We can be united in our love of the Valley and desire to see it protected.

We all want to see our community kept safe. It requires we increase our awareness of our own personal responsibility towards this mission, doing all the things we can to reduce risk within our control. It requires we accept accountability when it is directed our way, and we provide accountability to those around us. For that accountability to be effective, the receiving party must be willing to hear it, so the way we approach the problem matters. How would I want others pointing out an issue they had with me?

Together, we can continue to reduce risk in our community. I hope you’ll join us in this effort.

The Estes Valley Fire Protection District has been protecting the Estes Valley since 1907. The District employs five career employees and 40 volunteer members. The department serves 66 square miles in the Town of Estes Park and unincorporated Larimer County and responded to 620 calls for service in 2019. Estes Valley Fire shares mutual aid agreements with the Allenspark FPD, Pinewood Springs FPD, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Glen Haven VFD, Big Elk VFD, Lyons FPD, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Larimer County Emergency Services.

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