DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — There is a fairly well-known and healthy rivalry between police officers and firefighters. But in Douglas County, some members of the sheriff’s office are actually both.
“This is the best job in law enforcement,” Deputy Eric Rhymer said, describing his role as a school resource officer in Castle Pines.
Rhymer helps with carpooling, teaches youth education classes, and more.
“I love it,” he said.
The "and more" could also describe his other job with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office - fighting wildfires.
“It’s a voluntary unit. It’s part of the sheriff’s office, part of the Office of Emergency Management,” he explained.
The Wildland Fire Hand Crew puts sheriff's deputies, in some cases, on the front lines of wildfires.
“I think I’ve been on four fires,” deputy Rhymer said. “We do a lot of training, we do a lot of mitigation to prevent the spread of fires.”
The team is made up of volunteer members from throughout the office, including those who normally work in the patrol, civil, and detention divisions. They train with each other and alongside other firefighting teams to be prepared for fire emergencies, wherever they might happen.
“These dedicated professionals traverse rugged terrains to reach the heart of wildfires, armed with chainsaws, hand tools, and water backpacks, all of which enable them to effectively combat the flames,” the DCSO website described.
The team also trains on the county’s emergency response helicopter, something that isn’t on his normal SRO duties. It’s another job title on Deputy Rhymer’s resume, but also another method for him to protect and serve Douglas County.
“If we can give someone some peace of mind, and save property and save lives, it’s a benefit for everyone,” he said.