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Summit fire veteran dies

Jane Stebbins

PHOTO: “Niebergall.jpg” in LOCAL NEWS BASEVIEW

The firefighters of Summit County lost one of their own Tuesday.



Flags are at half-staff this week for Barrie Niebergall, a 24-year veteran of Summit County fire departments, most recently the Red, White and Blue fire department, which works the Breckenridge area.

County Coroner Joanne Richardson and Red, White and Blue public information officer Kim O’Brien said a fellow firefighter found Niebergall, a firefighter and driver-operator, in the exercise room of the Red, White and Blue north station near Tiger Road about 11 p.m. Tuesday. Despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. He was 56, O’Brien said.



The cause of his death is under investigation pending an autopsy. Memorial services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Summit High School.

Lake Dillon assistant fire chief Jeff Berino would have worked with Niebergall for 24 years next week.

“We kind of grew up together in the fire service,” Berino said. “But he always let me know he joined a week before I did.”



Niebergall, who also had many friends among fire departments in Eagle County, started his firefighting career in Frisco as a volunteer in 1980. He achieved status as lieutenant and was hired by the fire department in 1988, then became a part of the Lake Dillon Fire Authority when the districts consolidated in 1995.

Niebergall worked on and off as a volunteer at Copper Mountain from 1998 to 2002, and worked as a maintenance contractor after that. He has worked for Red, White and Blue since 2002.

He also worked as a fire apparatus consultant. He held numerous state firefighting, driver-operator and emergency medicine certificates, and sat on a committee that wrote tests for driver-operators used nationwide.

Through the years, he was a firefighter, lieutenant, battalion captain and engineer. But most of all, his fellow firefighters said, he loved driving the trucks.

“When he was driving the trucks, he was loving life,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Francis Winston. “He was a hands-on kind of guy. He was very dedicated to the fire service; he believed in it passionately.”

Niebergall was known throughout the state for his vast knowledge of fire apparatus.

“Many of us in this county owe much of our careers to Barrie,” said Red, White and Blue Chief Gary Green. “The skills and knowledge he shared as well as the passion for this job, will be carried forward in each of us.”

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Services

Memorial services are set for 11 a.m., Saturday at Summit High School. A procession will start at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena at 10 a.m.; those participating are asked to arrive no later than 9 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Barrie Niebergall Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank or sent to the Red, White and Blue Fire Department, c/o Barrie Niebergall Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 710, Breckenridge, CO, 80424. The funds will be used to provide training opportunities for Summit County firefighters and will be administered through the Red, White and Blue Career Firefighters’ Association.

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