Firefighters uphold "ride" tradition

Donn Maynard was planning on a ride home from his fellow firefighters on March 11. All the way to his farm in Cherokee Park. That was the day he left Firehouse 12 on the corner of Highway 1 and Country Club Road after 35 years of service in the Poudre Fire Department. The ride home is a tradition not to be broken by the men he had served with for so long.

Maynard moved to Fort Collins in 1976 and joined the fire department two years later.

“It was a natural progression,” he said. “I was a Boy Scout, ski patrolman, lifeguard, then paramedic before I started fighting fires.”

An Air Force brat, he lived in such far-flung spots as Thailand and Iran where he graduated from high school. He ended up in Colorado because his wife, Georgia, fell in love with the Red Feather Lakes area where she spent summers as a child. Now they raise cows, horses, mini-goats, donkeys, peacocks, ornamental pheasants and a whole lot of chickens — whose eggs they sell to neighbors.

Maynard has worked at nearly every fire station in the district and remembers the day when there was no such thing as a computer or cell phone to facilitate the work of fighting fires. Firefighters traditionally work 10 days a month, 24-hour shifts, 56 hours a week. Station 12 gets four or five calls a day, most of them medical emergencies.

“We’re never idle,” Maynard said. “Mornings are devoted to fitness (lately it’s been yoga) and training, perfecting driving, math and operational skills. We also address financial and personal issues that arise. After dinner, we have free time.”

Maynard’s wife retired last month from a nursing position at Poudre Valley Hospital. The couple plans to travel in a horse trailer/camper combination, spending time in the mountains as much as possible.

“We’ve been all over the world, and we love this place,” Maynard said. “We really don’t need to leave home to be on vacation.”

In addition to caring for the menagerie at his house, Maynard will be busy serving as volunteer fire chief for Livermore. He welcomes recruits to serve along with him and is an experienced trainer.

The party started at noon at Fire Station 12. Stacks of food were ready and colleagues from across town began dropping in. Then the stories started and soon it became clear, Maynard wasn’t likely to get his ride home until late in the afternoon, about the time his shift is over.

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