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Making it in Big Sky: Big Sky Fire Department

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Chief Megaard says he is most thankful to work alongside a great team at the Big Sky Fire Department. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHIEF GREG MEGAARD

By Mira Brody CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGIST

BIG SKY – In 1971, Big Sky began to grow from a small ranching community into a place where people lived and worked, so did the need for a functional fire department. As they always do here, locals stepped up and formed the Gallatin Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, a team with scarce funding and donated equipment, led by Tim Prather, the first fire chief and general manager of Big Sky Resort. Their first firetruck was used from Powell, Wyoming and stored in the old log garage at Crail Ranch.

In 1979, two Gallatin Canyon Rural Fire Districts were formed: one each for the Gallatin County and Madison County portions of Big Sky, operating as one department and funded by property mill levies. By 1986, the McBride Family donated land in Westfork Meadows for the current Fire Station 1—the construction was performed by Big Sky’s local tradesmen.

By 1992, the Big Sky Resort Area District was formed, providing a steady source of funding for fire and emergency operations in the area, allowing the station to create an ambulance service and hire a dedicated paramedic and first chief on payroll, Robert Stober, a retired battalion chief from the St. Paul, Minnesota Fire Department.

In 1997, Station 2 was constructed across from Big Sky Resort on land donated by Boyne, providing improved service coverage in the still-growing community. In 2003, the leadership button was passed from Chief Stober to Chief Jason Revisky, then in 2011 to Chief William Farhat who served until his retirement in 2020.

Today, BSFD is led by Deputy Chief of Operations Greg Megaard, the organization’s 10th fire chief. Explore Big Sky spoke with Chief Megaard about his time at the fire department and alongside a compelling history lesson, like any good chief, he reminded us about fire prevention month.

This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you first arrive in Big Sky and what brought you here? 

Greg Megaard: I’m born and raised in the Gallatin Valley; I grew up skiing in Big Sky and Bridger Bowl. I also have spent a lot of time hunting, fishing and hiking in this community over many years.

I started working part time for the Big Sky Fire Department in April of 2016, during that time, Fire Chief Bill Farhat approached me about possibly coming to work for the Big Sky Fire Department as the Deputy Chief of Operations. I decided to retire from the Bozeman Fire Department and took the position which started in August of 2016.

It’s fire prevention month, remember when you change your clock, make sure you change your batteries in all your smoke detectors. Having working smoke detectors makes all the difference in the time of an emergency.

Chief Greg Megaard, Deputy Chief of Operations, Big Sky Fire Department

EBS: How big is your team?  

GM: 31 members.

EBS: Tell me about the different services the fire department offers the community:

GM: Big Sky Fire Department is responsible for all structural and wildland fire suppression, rescue services, ALS emergency medical services and transport, hazardous materials response, fire prevention and public education, community hazard reductions to protect the life safety and property of residents and visitors to the greater Big Sky area.

EBS: Tell me a bit about how you work alongside both Gallatin and Madison counties to serve residents in Big Sky:

GM: Big Sky Fire Department is unique in that our district covers two counties. It really comes down to creating relationships; we work with both Madison [and] Gallatin County Commissioners, planning departments and emergency management to make sure we serve everyone who lives, works and visits in the counties.

EBS: What is the best part of working at the Big Sky Fire Department:

GM: Without questions the amazing team I get to work with every day at BSFD, and the community we get to serve.

EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?

GM: Challenge yourself to show up to work every day with the attitude that you must earn the right to have this job/profession.

EBS: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell the Big Sky community?

GM: It’s fire prevention month, remember when you change your clock, make sure you change your batteries in all your smoke detectors. Having working smoke detectors makes all the difference in the time of an emergency.

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