Grasshopper fire chief Boyd retires

Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Grasshopper fire chief Boyd retires

Dedicated leader Grasshopper Valley Volunteer Fire Company Chief Shelly Boyd retired on July 1 after leading the crew for 20 years. submitted photo

The Grasshopper Valley Volunteer Fire Company began the formation process in 1998 and incorporated by 1999 to provide the valley fire protection. A chief was voted in, though health reasons slowed his ability to lead the crew and he asked department member Shelly Boyd to take on the duties of training captain.

Within a year, Boyd accepted the job as chief of the volunteer department, becoming the first female chief of a volunteer fire department in Montana, according to information received by the department. A GVVFC Board Member asked both Boyd and Buddy Inboden if they would be interested in the chief position. Inboden deferred, agreeing to be assistant chief if Boyd would agree to take on the top spot. For 20 years, Boyd has served as chief and invaluable leader of the department. Last week, she retired, handing over the chief duties to Russell Harrison.

In June of 2000, the Grasshopper Valley department battled their first blaze, a wildland fire of 1,200 acres on the Circle S Ranch. The green crew managed the task with little knowledge or protective gear.

The Grasshopper Valley Volunteer Fire Department has grown in knowledge, ability and equipment under the two decades of Boyd’s leadership. Through Boyd’s dedicated service, the department has expanded to include an ambulance crew.

“Its never just about one person, it takes the whole crew,” said Boyd upon her retirement. “I couldn’t have accomplished what I did without the help of the men and women that have volunteered many, many hours that has made the Grasshopper Valley so great.”

In the early years, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation jumped on board to help Boyd with wildland fire training. Boyd wrote grant applications and orchestrated fundraising events to purchase protective gear for her crew. That dedication and help from others in the valley led to the construc tion of the Grasshopper Valley Voluteer Fire Company Fire House.

Boyd recalls numerous key moments in the developement of the fire company:

• 2001 Shelly and Tom Boyd went to Stansfield, Oregon to pick up Grasshoppers first structure truck, which was a 1967.

1967. • 2002 was when four Fire Department members trained to become the first of the first responders. Grasshopper Valley Volunteer Fire Company also received their first FEMA grant for their second structure truck, a newer model 2000, and they got their first ambulance, a 1984 van from Saco, MT.

• 2003 was when the Hidden Lake fire started consisting of approximately 3,500 acres. By 2003 Grasshopper already out grew the fire house and the second addition was started.

• By 2004 the second addition was completed to the fire house.

• 2007 four firefighters became the first EMTs. Also at this time two water tender trucks where given to Grasshopper Fire Department from Napa, California.

• 2008 the Department gained two more EMTs.

Boyd stayed on top of the training requirements for both the firefighters and ambulance crew, ensuring the department adhered to state requirements. Fireman in the Grasshopper train a minimum 30 hours per year while the EMS crew improves each year with a minimum 36 hours of training. Under her guidance, the fire company has grown from 15 members to a full roster today of 24 members. “Shelly was not only the first

“Shelly was not only the first Lady Volunteer Department Chief of Montana but was also one of the first leaders for the First Grasshopper Valley EMS,” said Russell Harrison, the new chief. “She had put in 20 years for Grasshopper Valley. She has helped build both departments. Shelly will be remembered and not forgotten.”

There will be a retirement party held for Chief Shelly Boyd (ret.) at a date yet to be determined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.