Richard Colombo was hard at work at R&A Market in Helper 41 years ago when fire chief Jim Pugliese approached him with a special request.
This request was for Colombo to assist at the fire station, as they were short on volunteers. Colombo did not know at the time that he would be stepping into his career when he agreed to help. Once he began the work of fire fighting, he discovered his love for it.
Colombo reflects that, when he started, to be a fireman you had to “put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” Now, there are many certifications and trainings for those who wish to enter the line of duty must complete.
Colombo spoke on the excitement of the position, stating that every time the pager goes off, the adrenaline really starts going. However, Colombo will be entering into retirement on June 28 to begin traveling and visiting family with his wife. Though Colombo and his wife will spend a great deal of time traveling, visiting and exploring, Carbon County will still be their homestead. He stated that he is going to greatly miss the personnel and the fast-pace environment of the job.
“Even after this many years, if we have a fire, I still get excited to go,” Colombo expressed.
While the job has been very rewarding for Colombo, he also briefly reflected on the times when a fire or rescue call was made that ended in tragedy. He expressed the hardship that firefighters go through, stating that it can be taxing. However, that is minimal in Colombo’s mind when he looks back on the greatness of his career and time at the fire station, stating that some of the rescues made are really worthwhile. He recalled a time that the station saved a young boy that was in a wreck with their quick response, stating that the fire station even received an award.
Colombo also spoke on the unity between the Helper, Price and Wellington departments, stating that he is glad the bond is there to ensure the safety of Carbon County citizens.
Colombo has served as the fire chief for a total of five years, having served as the assistant to Mike Zamantakis for 19 years prior to that. When prompted to deliver a message to the fire station and the community, Colombo characteristically took the chance to thank those around him.
“Thanks for the opportunity to serve you,” Colombo said.
A retirement party in Colombo’s honor will be hosted at the Helper Civic Auditorium on June 28 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All are welcome to attend and bid Colombo luck on his future endeavors.