Fire Protection District Q & A Fire Department Operations
The proposed establishment of the Estes Valley Fire Protection District to provide fire and rescue services to the entire Estes Valley will go to the voters this November. Each week until the election, the Fire Services Initiative Committee will answer questions submitted by the residents of the Estes Valley. Questions are being grouped by subject. This week, the questions involve fire department operations.
Q. What is the history of the Fire Department?
A. The Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department started in 1907. The Fire Department was all volunteer until 1999, when the first paid fire chief was hired. The Fire Department now has three paid staff members and thirty-eight volunteer firefighters.
Q. What’s wrong with the way the Fire Department is operated and funded today?
A. Nothing is wrong with the Fire Department operations, but the funding is neither sustainable nor adequate for the long term. The operations of the Fire Department will stay the same; there will still be a volunteer Fire Department with a few paid personnel just as it has been for the last ten years. The current system of funding the Fire Department is not equitable or reliable.
Q. There are only 5 or so fires each year, what else do the firefighters do?
A. On average, the firefighters respond to thirty-two fires per year. However, the firefighters provide many different services to the community including wildland fire suppression, structure fire suppression, vehicle fire suppression, motor vehicle extrications and rescue, search and rescue, dive and swift water rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, low-angle rescue, fire rescue, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials response. In addition to the emergency responses, the Fire Department provides fire prevention education, fire extinguisher classes, wildland fire mitigation education, plan reviews, fire hydrant flow tests, fire safety education to schools, seniors, and businesses, fire inspections, child passenger safety seat inspections, and provides free smoke detectors.
Q. What are the firefighters’ responsibilities as emergency responders?
A. The first priority of the firefighters is life safety, followed by property conservation, and protecting the environment. They are responsible for the welfare of their fellow firefighters and the general public. They are also responsible to maintain their firefighting training, skills and certifications.
Q. What type of training do the firefighters have to have? How long does it take?
A. The initial firefighter training is about one-hundred-fifty hours at a fire academy. The firefighters attend the fire academy two evenings per week and every Saturday for about four months. After the academy, the firefighters continue to train on their basic firefighting skills and acquire more advanced skills and training and average over one-hundred hours of training per year. The firefighters are required to be certified for each of the different services they provide.
Q. How much time does each Firefighter devote to service?
A. Including the training, call response, fund drives, fire prevention and other non-emergency services, a firefighter averages over two-hundred hours per year.
Q. Does this mean donation drives and Fire Department fundraisers will go away?
A. Yes, for funding to support the Fire Department mission. However, the firefighters may still do fund drives for other causes like the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Labor Day weekend.
Q. What happens to the fire station and the Fire Department equipment?
A. Per an Intergovernmental Agreement between the Town of Estes Park and the Fire Protection District, all of the apparatus and equipment will be given to the Fire Protection District at no charge. The Town retains ownership of the Dannels Fire Station and will lease it to the District for one-dollar per year.
Q. Will the current Fire Department go away after the election?
A. The Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department will remain. The governing body for fire and rescue services will change from the Town of Estes Park to the Estes Valley Fire Protection District.
Q. If the voters approve the district, when will it become operational?
A. The district will become operational on January 1, 2010.
Q. If, after some period of time, the voters do not believe that the Fire Protection District is working as they thought it would, is there a way to dissolve the district?
A. Yes. State statute allows for the modification or dissolution of special districts. The voters always have the final say.
If you have any questions concerning the proposed establishment of the Estes Valley Fire Protection District you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.evfireservices.org.