Rifle river rescue open house is full of fun
RIFLE — It was a toss-up as to what was actually this year’s most popular event at Colorado River Rescue’s annual open house on Saturday, but it became perfectly clear that the city’s police and fire departments have a fun, working relationship.
“That’s not always the case with police and fire departments,” said Colorado River Rescue’s Fire Chief Mike Morgan. “But we do all get along — we’re all working for the same cause.”
The friendly rivalry was evident when Rifle Police Chief John Dyer challenged Morgan to a “water bucket brigade,” in which the pair filled buckets of water, handed them off to kids who volunteered to run them to the “fire building” and then poured the water into a hose which emptied into a bucket.
The team that filled its bucket first was the winner.
Little did either chief know, their employees had put holes in the buckets, so half the water was lost as the kids ran them from one point to the other.
The annual event, which has been held for at least the past eight years, is an effort to educate the public about what emergency services do and in particular, how Colorado River Rescue serves the communities from Rifle to New Castle.
“We decided to start this event for the community so they could see what the fire department really is,” Morgan said. “There are a lot of misconceptions. People need to understand some of this.”
And the fire department staff loves interacting with the kids, Morgan said.
“Kids say they want to be a fireman when they grow up,” Morgan smiled. “But we say you can’t do both. You can’t be a fireman and grow up. It’s one or the other.”
The joking continues when the fire department makes fun of the age-old adage about cops hanging out at doughnut shops.
“And they say we eat until we’re sleepy and then we sleep until we’re hungry,” Morgan said with a laugh.
The Colorado River Rescue open house has drawn up to 2,500 in the past and is now more of an all encompassing “public safety” event that includes the fire department, police department, sheriff’s office, Grand River Health and other emergency responders.
So far this year, the number of calls for emergency services has remained about the same, and the wildfire season this year has been relatively calm.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had a lot of moisture and a wet, cool spring,” Morgan said. “In June and July, it started getting a little dicey, but for the most part we’ve had a wet, late summer and early fall. Our calls for service this year have been about the same so far.”
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.