New Snowmass firefighter is here to stay | AspenTimes.com

New Snowmass firefighter is here to stay

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Some people decide they're going to stay in the valley after they've lived here a few years.

Terry Cox has only lived here one year, but he says he and his family are here to stay. A firefighter at the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District, Cox has already fallen in love with the area.

"It's a beautiful area," Cox said. "It seems that by and large the population is a healthier, more active population. And for the most part everyone's really friendly."

Cox moved to Snowmass Village from Arizona last year because his wife, Darla, had been wanting to move to a more seasonal climate and found the job on a website for fire careers.

"I don't think either of us knew what Snowmass was or what Aspen was," Cox said.

Cox has three kids, two grown and out of the house and one daughter who's attending Aspen High School. They aren't skiers yet — "I spend more time on my head than my skis," he said of attempting it last winter — but they want to learn. They've also spent some time hiking and snowshoeing throughout the valley.

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Cox grew up in Oklahoma and joined the military at a young age. He met Darla while still in the service, and they eventually moved to her home state of Arizona.

While working in construction in the early 2000s, Cox would drive by a fire station every day, and with the spotlight on first responders after 9/11, he became curious about it as a career. One day, he stopped at the station and talked to an employee.

"He took the next 30 minutes out of his day to explain to me step by step how to get into the fire service," Cox said. "You could tell this guy loved his job. It wasn't a job, it was a way of life."

Cox began training and became a reserve firefighter at the Sierra Vista Fire Department in 2004, becoming full-time three years later.

It's not unusual for former military members to join fire departments. Cox attributes it to the paramilitary structure at fire stations that includes a chain of command and organized structure. However, firefighting is more rewarding because he feels like he's directly having a positive impact on people, he said.

"The neat thing about the fire service is you still have those type of structures, but you now help people," Cox said. "You do stuff you consider just to be in the course of your duties and people swing by and drop off cookies; they thank you."

Like most of the Snowmass firefighters, Cox is also a paramedic. Most of the calls the district responds to are medical, Cox said.

"Having an EMS side … you're able to give a higher level of care between here and the hospital," Cox said. "To me, it's pretty important."

He also praised the quality of the Snowmass district's EMS service, calling it "second to none."

A typical day at the fire station is busy, full of chores around the station and training in between running calls. The firefighters have also been busy this year standing by at special events.

"The fire service is a second family," Cox said. "It's nice in that respect. They treat my wife and kid like part of the big family."

jill@snowmasssun.com