This week The Valley Reporter met with Warren fire chief Jeff Campbell, Waitsfield-Fayston fire chief Tripp Johnson and Moretown fire chief Stefan Pratt for an extensive conversation about their volunteer fire departments, their history, their future and much more. The first story from that meeting runs this week and there will be more in coming weeks.


There were many remarkable things about our conversation with these local volunteers, including the degree to which they consider themselves partners and members of the same team. Each chief has the back of the other chiefs and each department treats the other departments as valuable collaborators in keeping people safe.

Firefighting is a complex thing and these local volunteer chiefs and the volunteer firefighters who staff their departments spend far more hours preparing and training and cleaning up from fighting fires than they do fighting fires. It takes so much time and effort to respond safely and the aftermath, the cleaning of equipment and uniforms, the debriefing of how the fire was fought – that all takes a lot of time.

It also takes dedication. Maintaining volunteer fire departments is not easy in small towns in a small state with an aging population and these fire chiefs are cognizant of that. They are aware that the same lack of workforce housing that is impacting local restaurants and other businesses is impacting their ability to attract a new generation of younger firefighters going forward. They are aware of the impacts of high elevation development and development where access by emergency vehicles may be difficult or impossible.

Firefighting, we learned in our conversation with these fire chiefs, is much more nuanced and multi-faceted than we thought going in. It’s so much more than working to protect lives and property, yet at its heart, it is about protecting lives and property and serving the community.

We are so lucky to have these three individuals leading our local volunteer fire departments and we’re thankful for their volunteer members as well as the leadership and volunteers at the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service.

The entire conversation can be viewed at and it’s worth watching.