Local fire chief assumes state leadership role
Mike Morgan, outgoing chief of Colorado River Fire Rescue, entered his new role as director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control during a formal transfer of command ceremony last Friday in Lakewood.
Morgan, who started his firefighting career about 30 years ago in Garfield County, was named to the position in mid-March. When the time came to fill the position, recommendations started flooding in suggesting Morgan, said Stan Hilkey, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
After expressing his gratitude, Morgan shared some lessons he said helped him realize who he is as a person and a leader. Honesty and teamwork were among the characteristics Morgan said will define the division under his leadership.
CRFR will always be family, Morgan said. The family is not changing — it is just getting a little bit bigger, he added.
Friday’s occasion, which resembled a military ceremony in some fashion, also was a farewell and a thank you to outgoing director Paul Cooke, who is retiring after 41 years of work in fire and emergency services.
Representatives from state and federal elected officials thanked Cooke for his years of service.
Hilkey, who entered his current position in 2014, noted Cooke’s accomplishments, including the formation of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting housed at the Rifle Garfield County Airport.
Much has changed since coming to Colorado more than three decades ago, said Cooke, who is relocating to Wisconsin. He thanked the many people who contributed to improving wildland firefighting in the state over that time.
A local farewell celebration is scheduled for 2-5 p.m. Saturday in Rifle.