Workaholic and loving it

A self-titled “diverse workaholic,” Carol Dollard is a utility engineer, firefighter and sustainability guru, and whatever she is working on at the moment is her favorite thing.

Engineering has been a lifelong passion. Growing up during a time of oil embargos peaked Carol’s interest in alternative energy, which continues today in her work as an energy engineer with CSU’s Facilities Management.

“My mom always teased me that I was going to be an engineer from the time I was about ten. My dad was an engineer and I just always grew up around engineers, and I’ve always been motivated to do that,” Carol said.

She and her family moved to Rist Canyon in 1983, and within the next year Carol joined the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, where she volunteered for the past 30 years and is now a fire captain.

Carol is a confident, “top-notch” firefighter, according to Bob Gann, Fire Chief of the RCVFD. Gann said he can count on Carol to appropriately carry out duties and lead teams appropriately and safely.

“She’s the kind of person you want to have on a fire. She can handle a number of roles and she can do all those well, whether its running a crew or dealing with the public. It’s a multifaceted job and she can do all those jobs,” Gann said.

During this summer’s High Park Fire, she and many other firefighters were evacuated from their homes, only to return to the area to help combat the blaze.

The RCVFD imparted knowledge of the terrain, community and resources that became a valuable asset when federal firefighters arrived to help.

“It’s rewarding when we can help out members of our community,” Carol said. “This summer obviously was sort of an epic summer for the fire department, and it was one of those times where you felt all of those hours of training really paid off and you were able to return something back to the community.”

Eight of the RCVD firefighters lost their homes during the summer and their willingness to continue to serve other community members inspired Carol.

Balance is key to being a firefighter, according to Gann. Knowledge and the ability to apply it to practical situations, whether actively fighting a fire or recognizing limits and focusing on safety.

“What being a firefighter does is bring you a connection with reality, engineering or science can sometimes be somewhat disconnected from practical matters of executing project or research,” Gann said. “What firefighting does tends to focus attention to clarify what’s important and what’s not, what’s short-term tactical and long-term strategic, so those skills are very useful in all walks of life.”

Utility work at “the little city we know as CSU” can sometimes compare to fighting fires in the immediacy of accomplishment, according to Carol. However, other parts of her job require long-term work where a final sense of accomplishment is delayed.

As the Energy Program Manager for Facilities Management, Carol works with CSU on its carbon emissions and energy efficiency programs, participates in committees and pursues grants for the university. Carol was instrumental in instigating the 30 acre, 5.3 MW solar farm at the Foothills campus in 2010, according to Steve Hultin, Director of Facilities Management.

Hultin hired Carol in 1999 because of her expertise in engineering and energy, as well as her work in the community. Since then, Carol has carried the torch of promoting sustainable projects within Facilities Management.

“She has a wealth of knowledge and experience and she’s sort of a good thinker, she can see the forest through the trees and set the tone and direction and just lead by example,” Hultin said.

Carol has been one of the leading voices for energy conservation on campus, according to Gene Ellis, assistant director of facilities management. Additionally, Carol’s relationships with the City of Fort Collins, Platte River Power Authority, Xcel Energy and others in the industry helped CSU create a communication with outside entities and opened doors in the realm of energy savings, building efficiency and utility rebates.

Sustainability, however, does not stop with Carol’s work. By utilizing solar hot water and solar electric technology, she and her husband are working towards net-zero energy use for their low-impact home. Although sustainability is a goal where people approach zero but probably will not reach it, it is still worth working toward, according to Carol.

Carol’s commitment to CSU’s green initiatives as well as her own use of sustainable practices impressed Hultin.

“What I like about Carol is she practices what she preaches: she lives green,” Hultin said.

In addition to working for CSU and as a firefighter, Carol guest lectures for the Construction Management Department and volunteers with the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. While she may be busy, all her involvement comprises important aspects of her life.

“It’s an important part of how I get enrichment out of life, and so it’s not that I consider it a sacrifice, it’s part of what makes me feel fulfilled as a person.”