By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

The Sopris Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before – a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week, we caught up with Garrett Kennedy, a 2002 RFHS graduate and a full time firefighter and paramedic for Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District for more than a decade. 

THE SOPRIS SUN: Where are you from originally?

KENNEDY:  I was born in Glenwood and have lived in the Valley my whole life with the exception of a few years in Junction for college. My parents are both here; my dad was a firefighter here for 30 years, which is kind of how I got into it as a little tyke.

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: My dad is a real estate agent, my mom stays at home and my brother lives in Silt and is expecting a baby soon. I have a wife and two kids: a daughter that’s 6 and a son that’s 3.

Q: What sort of changes have you noticed over the years?

A: The town has grown dramatically. I remember as a kid there was just fields across from the fire station, and then River Valley Ranch and Aspen Glen came in.  At the fire department, the volunteer spirit has kind of decreased just because it’s so expensive to live and everyone has three jobs.

Q: What did you study in school?

A: I have an associates in fire science and an associates in paramedicine as well. I saw the writing on the wall when I was young and wanted to get that degree. I still plan on getting a bachelor’s eventually.

Q: What kind of fires do you mostly deal with?

A: As of late it’s more wildland fires, car fires, that kind of stuff. We don’t get a lot of house fires, just ‘cause of the newer construction and fire safety regulations. Back when my dad was a volunteer they used to get two or three house fires a month.

Q: Tell us about the paramedic side of things.

A: A lot of people don’t realize that we do the ambulance transports. We have to explain to people that we do both and that’s how departments are run in most of the Valley. It’s two different mindsets; two different abilities. We actually have volunteers that just do EMS and volunteers that just do fire, but to become a full staff member you have to do both.

Q: Why choose a job that puts you in harm’s way?

A: I just like helping people make their worst day better. When I was growing up I think I just saw the red fire trucks and the sirens, but as I got older I saw what it was really about. It’s hard to explain what the feeling is when someone comes to the station a couple weeks after a dramatic call and tells you thank you with tears in their eyes.

Q: What are your pastimes and passions outside of work?

A: I like to camp, go four-wheeling, hunting, hiking — all that good stuff. Obviously traveling’s a good thing to do. I’ve been to Mexico, California, Las Vegas, Moab, back to Pennsylvania where my grandma lives. I want to do more, but it’s just a matter of finding the time.

Q: What other goals are you working on?

A: I want to continue my education and eventually advance in my career. That will come with time as some of the older guys retire. I’d like to work into a management role and lead the other young guys to where I am now.

Q: Any advice for folks?

A: Don’t be afraid to call us. The doors are always open if you want to bring the kids by to see the trucks or get a tour and learn more about what we do.

If you know someone who should be featured in “Our Town,” email or call 510-3003.