Moffat County Locals: Neither fire nor ice can deter Troy Hampton, dedicated firefighter and snow plow driver
Most would balk at the thought of waking up and hitting the streets at 4 a.m. in frigid temperatures and nasty conditions, but it’s in the job description for Troy Hampton, one of Craig’s chosen few charged with wrangling the snow on city streets into submission each winter, a job both thankless and necessary.
Hampton will mark 25 years with the city’s Road and Bridge department in January, having originally followed his family to Craig from Price, Utah, as a young man in his early 20s.
“He was still in diapers when he came to work for the city,” joked Road and Bridge Director Randy Call. “He must’ve been around 25, but he looked about 16 when he came here.”
Of Call, who has logged nearly 35 years at Road and Bridge, Hampton quipped, “I think he invented Craig.”
Though good humor runs through the department, Call described Hampton as “serious,” and when the snow begins to fall, the 16-strong department is all business.
“Our whole department plows snow. … We’ve each got our section of town,” Hampton said. “We’re out some nights until 10:30 at night and back in at 3:30 in the morning. Some days, you’re just beat and think, ‘It’s gotta quit.’”
Hampton logged a particularly memorable moment about 17 years ago, when his plow dropped off the shoulder of the road in heavy snow conditions and rolled into a resident’s backyard. Poor visibility and a windrow of snow concealed the fact that there was little to no shoulder on the road.
No one was injured, and the plow suffered very little damage, but his coworkers have never let him live it down, Hampton said.
A father of four and an avid outdoorsman, Hampton spends his time in the warmer months fishing in nearby lakes. Before the snow falls, he takes to the hills, hunting deer and elk — this year, he helped his youngest daughter, 16, score a deer. And during winter, he takes to the ice.
“I’d rather do the ice fishing than the summer fishing. Everyone says you’re crazy for doing it, but just being out on the ice — it’s just a lot more fun … and I think the fishing’s better in the winter time,” Hampton said.
True to Call’s description of him, Hampton is also serious about his 19 years of service as a firefighter and current battalion chief for Craig Fire/Rescue.
“Here we are, almost 20 years later, and I still love it,” he said. “Adrenaline: that’s what got me there, and helping people … (The department) is my second family, so just being there for your brother and sister.”
When the snow begins to pile up, Craig’s snow plow drivers can take a lot of heat from disgruntled residents who think the snow in front of their driveways was put there out of spite, but Hampton said it’s simply a fact of life in a snowy climate.
“I work 8 to 10 hours a day and have to come home … and shovel my own driveway,” he said. “Everybody gets their fair share of snow.”