Photo by Jana Bounds

Welcome to the family

Big Sky Fire board of trustees appoints interim Chief Greg Megaard to Fire Chief

Good natured ribbing and good food – these function as a part of the foundation of any solid fire department. That kind of camaraderie coupled with integrity and professionalism is necessary when the firefighters respond to emergencies and need to function as a team. The sporadic intensity of the job demands a strong brotherhood, a family. It is easy to see that the firemen in Big Sky have it dialed–in – and Chief Greg Megaard fits.

He is a no guff kind of guy, a straight shooter who is deeply respected in the world of fire fighting. As Chief Farhat’s newly appointed successor, he said he intends to continue on the great path Chief Farhat created with the Big Sky Fire Department (BSFD).

“It’s truly humbling and truly an honor to earn the respect of everyone in our organization. That is no small thing in the scope of the fire service,” he said.

He brings a combined 40 years of experience to Big Sky from Central Valley Fire Department in Belgrade as well as the Bozeman Fire Department, where he retired as deputy fire chief. He has been serving as deputy chief of operations for BSFD since 2016 and as interim fire chief since Chief Farhat’s departure.

But, who is the man behind the resume?

Chief Megaard is about as Montana as a person can get. He was born at Bozeman Deaconess and grew-up in Belgrade – a slice of small town America where everybody knew everybody.

“Sometimes that was great and sometimes not so great. When you got into trouble your parents knew before you got home,” he said.

He found a love for competition in high school and played a lot of sports. After graduation, he worked construction for a while. Then, he joined the Central Valley Fire Department as a volunteer. The rest is history.

“Once I got the bug for firefighting, that was it. That was what I was put on this earth to do–to be a firefighter,” he said. He later tested for the Bozeman Fire Department and started working his way up through the ranks.

He and his wife have three children and could think of no better place than Montana to raise them. Family is important to Chief Megaard, but his family extends beyond his blood relations and to the fire department itself.

“We have superstars across the board. We have amazing people,” he said.

He emphasized that the safety of Big Sky is a team and community effort and spoke to a collaborative approach to leadership.

“Words come pretty cheap, but you’ve got to live that, too. We’ve got to take care of the community and people we are entrusted with. I’ll be the fire chief, but that doesn't mean I will have all the answers. You’ve got to have good people around you – and I do,” he said.

It is an interesting time in world history for anyone to be stepping into a leadership role, especially when that position is charged with the health and safety of a community.

“In all my years in the fire service, I never thought we would experience something like a national pandemic like this, but it’s here and we are dealing with it,” he said. “We are just encouraging the community to stay vigilant. We all just need to do our part.”

Chief Megaard’s appointment had overwhelming support from within BSFD and from outside organizations statewide, Big Sky Fire Department Board of Trustees chair Alan McClain said.

To have that support is humbling. Chief Megaard does not take it lightly. He noted that the department will continue to strive for the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

“It’s all about family –my personal family, the fire department family,” he said. “To be a part of the Big Sky family – is an amazing place tobe.”

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