Red, White & Blue chief Jim Keating announces retirement after 46 years in firefighting


Jim Keating, Red, White and Blue fire protection district chief, was photographed at his Breckenridge desk and announced that he would be retiring on June 2, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Jim Keating, longtime Red, White and Blue fire protection district chief after 46 years with the Fire Service and more than 10 years in Summit County, has announced that he will retire effective June 2. .

A native of Kansas, Keating began his career as a firefighter in the U.S. Naval Reserve and briefly considered a career change before joining his home state’s volunteer department. He remained in that division for decades, moving to Colorado in 2012, where he was promoted to Chief before becoming Chief of Red, White and Blue.

“Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be involved in progressive efforts and cutting-edge programs that move firefighting forward,” said Keating, who has served in consulting roles as needed at Red, White & Blue. said to continue. End of the year.

In Summit County, Keating helped Red, White and Blue become one of only nine fire departments in the world to achieve dual certification with the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Ambulance Service Accreditation Commission.

Under his leadership, the District opened Station 5, based at the Grand Lodge of Peak 7, established a Wilderness Division, and assumed responsibility for EMS services originally run by the county government.

Over the years in the Fire District, Keating has responded to the Breckenridge conference center collapse, the Peak 2 fire, occasional building fires, and many other medical and fire-related emergencies.

“Fire Chief Jim Keating has provided strong and experienced leadership to our organization through the last decade of significant growth and achievements,” said President of the Red, White and Blue Board of Directors. A Jim Brook said in a statement. “Our board of directors appreciates his achievements and wishes him well in his retirement.”

With Keating’s retirement, the boards of Red, White and Blue will select an outside agency to assist in the hiring process for the new chief, according to a Fire District news release. A representative group of fire district staff will be involved in the evaluation process, the release said.

Keating began serving as a Red, White & Blue officer in 2010 and was appointed Fire Chief in October 2012. The former chief was aware of his considerable experience in Kansas, including his 23 years as fire chief in Pottawatammy County, he said. First fire district.

Mr. Keating has garnered praise for being named chief despite having just over two years of experience on the Red, White and Blue boards.

Arch Gossard, who was president of the board when Keating was hired as chief, said, “We couldn’t have attracted someone as talented as him with such great experience and a great resume. “I think Secretary Cheating has done a great job moving the department forward, both operationally and administratively.”

During his tenure as Pottawatamie County Fire Chief, Keating was involved with the Kansas Fire Chiefs Association and the Kansas Firefighters Association, where he served as president of both organizations.

“So we’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of work to improve many areas of the Kansas fire service,” Keating said.

At the time, all Kansas firefighters—about 80 percent of whom were volunteers—were required to become certified through a training and testing process, Keating said, adding that lobbyists and all firefighting associations in the state and 2 I pointed out that we have been working together for years. Years on this issue.

Ultimately, the state legislature approved $2 million a year in funding for firefighter training at the University of Kansas, offering free training to any volunteer fire department in the state who wanted it, he said. rice field.

Keating, who worked as a legislative liaison for the Kansas Fire Department, passed a law extending the statute of limitations for arson from one to three years, a law making it a felony to poison an arson dog, and several other laws. I also promoted the issue. state politics.

“I was involved in eight or 10 very important legislative acts,” he said.

Keating has also served regionally and internationally as a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and as President of the Missouri Valley Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, representing eight state mayors.

Keating began his career as a firefighter around 1970, serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve for 3.5 years stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He said he considered it briefly.

“I quickly realized that law enforcement wasn’t the career path I wanted,” said Keating. “A lot of interesting things happened along the way, but then I realized it wasn’t where I wanted to go.”

Over the decades, Keating said he’s seen the transformation of not just fire departments, but Summit County as well. When he first moved to Breckenridge, Colorado Route 9 was his two-lane road with no roundabouts and he only had one traffic light, Keating said.

“Currently, State Highway 9 is four lanes and is heavily congested,” he said.

When Keating first got involved in firefighting in the 1970s, he still had that “Well, I’m tough” attitude. i am a firefighter You can walk into a burning building with nothing,” he said, but over the years protective gear has become more prevalent as the effects of smoke inhalation become more apparent. I got

Meanwhile, fire regulations, such as the widespread use of fire alarms and sprinklers, have reduced building fires, Keating said, but modern building materials contain more chemicals than in years past. Therefore, a real burning fire poses a greater danger. Firefighter.

But technology is the biggest change, says Keating. Today, drones can survey an area in minutes, but in his early days the smoke could only be assessed from a distance and by hiking.Now everything in the fire service is data-driven. , Firefighters should be more educated than before.

Keating said anyone who takes over the role of chief must be ready to embrace continual change, as he has done throughout his career.

“Be prepared for constant change,” said Keating.

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