Be Mountain Wise: Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department Asks for Your Help

Two cyclists illustrating the difference in visibility wearing bright or fluorescent clothing makes when navigating a mountain highway. (Photo courtesy Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department)

The lure of the mountains, especially during the summer, is irresistible. The Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department (RCVFD) asks everyone to be Mountain Wise. Automobiles and motorcyclists, runners, cyclists, hikers, picnickers, campers, and sightseers are responsible for making their time in the mountains safe and enjoyable.

The panoramic views, wildlife, narrow winding roads, increased traffic, the possibility of escalating fire danger, and quickly changing weather patterns present a special set of challenges for first responders in the mountains. Being alert and prepared when in the mountains helps reduce the chances of first responders being needed.

The RCVFD is asking you to use these simple guidelines:

  1. Always observe the speed limit.
  2. Assume your phone and other electronic devices will not work in the mountains.
  3. This is home to wildlife; you are the visitor in their habitat. Always give them the right-of-way and be alert, watching roads, trails, and surrounding areas.
  4. Winding roads create many blind spots, and shadows make it difficult to see. Motorists are encouraged to drive with headlights on. Those not inside vehicles are strongly encouraged to avoid wearing black or other dark colors, instead opting for bright or fluorescent easily seen options. Lights on both the front and rear of all types of bikes are strongly suggested.
  5. This year’s generous rains are producing a bumper crop of vegetation that, once dry, will provide a great deal of fuel for potential forest fires. Please be cautious with campfires, sparks, cigarette butts, and anything that can potentially start a fire.
  6. Always be prepared for changes in the weather. Higher altitudes are prone to quickly changing conditions. Hikers, in particular, please plan for potential challenges and take into consideration the impact of altitude.
  7. Take your time and be courteous to others. Please give special consideration to visitors unfamiliar with our roads and the area.

“We respond to a wide variety of rescue and emergency situations, particularly in the summer months, often prompted by the increased number of people in our service area,” says RCVFD Chief Elsner. “It is everyone’s responsibility to make their time in the mountains safe and enjoyable.”

The approximately 35 volunteer RCVFD firefighters respond to visitors and residents alike with medical emergencies, motor vehicle and cyclist accidents, fires, natural disasters, and other rescue/emergencies. The all-volunteer, donation-based, 501(c)(3) department serves a more than 110 square mile area that includes Rist Canyon, Stove Prairie, and the Buckhorn and provides mutual aid to an additional 50 square miles.

Stay informed, be mountain-wise, and know the rules of the high country to make your time in the area safe and enjoyable.  Additional tips and information are available at

Note: Interviews with RCVFD Chief Jeff Elsner or Assistant Chief Carol Dollard are available by contacting Karen Salaz at [email protected]. Attached photo: Two cyclists illustrating the difference in visibility wearing bright or fluorescent clothing makes when navigating a mountain highway.

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