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Durango firefighter retires after 40 years of service

Rod Allen began as a volunteer and worked his way up the ranks
Rod Allen, left, is handed a traditional retirement ax from Hal Doughty, chief of the Durango Fire Protection District, at his retirement celebration Oct. 21 at Zia Taqueria in north Durango. (Courtesy of Durango Fire Protection District)

The Durango Fire Protection District said farewell to one of its longtime employees, as Rod Allen decided to retire after four decades.

Allen, 60, began his firefighting career as a volunteer in 1983. He said he’s not sure yet what he plans to do next, but he plans to stay in the Durango area.

“It was a good run. I have met the benchmarks and it’s time to move on,” he said. “ … As far as the future, maybe I will continue to farm.”

Allen began his firefighting career with the Animas Fire District, which eventually consolidated into the Durango Fire Protection District. About four years later, he began working seasonally for the Bureau of Land Management as a range technician and firefighter.

He plowed snow during the winters at Purgatory Resort to make ends meet.

In 1996, Allen took a full-time job with Animas Fire and moved up the ranks, eventually becoming a captain and a battalion chief. Battalion chiefs are the highest-ranking tactical officers on a shift. They set schedules, ensure employees are up-to-date on training and oversee most incidents.

During his 40 years, he responded to numerous downtown Durango fires, including the Roundhouse Fire in 1989, the Central Hotel Fire in 2006, the Season Fire in 2008 and the Newman Building Fire in 2009.

He also responded to numerous wildland fires, including the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire and the 416 Fire in 2018.

There were also numerous rescue calls and EMS calls, including those involving rope rescues and difficult extractions.

“The chance of changing the outcome makes it worthwhile,” Allen said of his four decades as a first responder.

Deputy Chief Randy Black, who will become fire chief early next year, said Allen was the instructor of his first wildland firefighting class in 1990. He described Allen as having a calm perspective with a big-picture view and on organizational mindset.

“Working with him throughout the years was a privilege and an honor,” Black said. “He selflessly served our community as a volunteer and a paid member for over 40 years, which is amazing in today’s world.”


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