Sat, 2 September 2023
Management Strategies That For-Profit Businesses Can Glean from a Volunteer Fire Company’s Enduring Success
This week’s edition of Monday Morning Radio tells the remarkable story of Genesee Fire Rescue (GFR), a little volunteer engine company that could, and has, for five decades.
Located in the majestic foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 20 miles west of downtown Denver, the unincorporated community of Genesee is home to approximately 4,000 residents and 1,500 homes.
Monday Morning Radio host Dean Rotbart spent 18 months chronicling GFR’s half-century evolution, growing from a three-person company of well-intended amateurs into a force of 40 of the most professional, well-equipped volunteer firefighters in Colorado.
Dean’s new book, Dedication And Service: 50 Years on Call with the Volunteers of Colorado’s Genesee Fire Rescue, is available now on Amazon. The book is co-authored by GFR Lieutenant Hank O’Brien.
The odds of a small enterprise surviving for 50 years are minute — fewer than one in a hundred. That’s even truer when the organization's employees are volunteers who regularly risk their lives to provide a free service to their local community.
“Why do the volunteers do it?” Dean asks. “They get paid nothing for the hundreds of hours that many of them devote each year to training and service. They put life and limb at risk. They witness injuries and tragedies that, once seen, can never be forgotten. They are on perpetual call, often summoned to the station in the dead of night, and in Colorado, at least, asked to perform in blizzards and sub-zero conditions.”
To help explain the commitment of Genesee’s volunteer firefighters, Dean and his son, Monday Morning Radio co-host Maxwell Rotbart, invited two active GFR members on this week’s podcast.
Jason Puffett joined GFR in 2010 and became its volunteer chief in 2015. Then, in 2017, the elected board that oversees the fire department asked Puffett to guide GFR as its first paid, full-time leader.
Lt. O’Brien, co-author of Dedication and Service and a certified EMT, is a third-generation firefighter. He joined GFR in 2015 and conducted more than two dozen oral histories with past and current members of the fire department.
“Dedication and Service is a poignant celebration of the heroes next door, those ordinary yet extraordinary individuals who show up for their neighbors,” Dean reports. “The half-century legacy of Genesee Fire Rescue is an inspiring testament to the enduring spirit of American volunteerism, a beacon that continues to shine in towns and cities nationwide.”
BOOKS BY DEAN and MAXWELL ROTBART
Photos (L-R): Chief Jason Puffett and Lt. Hank O’Brien, Genesee Fire Rescue