In direct response to the Hayman Fire in 2002, the El Pomar Foundation reached out to fire fighting agencies throughout the state and asked what they could do to help.
Over the years, the philanthropic organization has given out millions to agencies. Among the latest benefactors are the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Black Forest Fire and Rescue Protection District.
“There was a realization that the firefighters on the front line and the fire agencies needed support,” said Lori Bellingham, El Pomar’s communications director. “We wanted to help with whatever they needed to fight those fires.”
Tri-Lakes Monument got a $10,000 grant in late June so that it could purchase and add a Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to its fleet of fire and emergency vehicles. The UTV allows firefighters and emergency personnel to rapidly reach their destination in rough terrain.
Dincent purchased the vehicle from the Polaris dealer in Woodland Park.
“It’s going to give us four-season capability to support crews in the field,” said John Dincent, who doubles as the Tri Lakes Monument fire marshal and Palmer Lake fire chief. “Palmer Lake already has two of these. You put three of them together and it expands the capability of our performance.”
The needs of local fire agencies have increased in recent years to the increase in wildfires in the area. Dincent praised El Pomar for its willingness to reach out to agencies.
“It’s not a matter of what we wanted; it’s what we needed,” Dincent said. “We needed this (UTV) for a few years.
“This is all part of the long-term planning. This is not about new shiny toys. It’s about what each department needs.”
Palmer Lake received $6,000 for VHF radios with digital capability. Dincent was able to purchase seven Relm King Radios.
Tri-Lakes Monument did not have a need for new radios.
“We had them within four days,” Dincent said. “The normal price was $1,100 a radio. Relm gave us a good price.”
Black Forest received a $10,000 grant for personnel protective equipment, and another $6,000 for radios.
In all, El Pomar gave out 25 grants to fire agencies throughout the state totaling $530,000.
“We try to listen to the experts,” Bellingham said. “That’s why this fund was created so that they could us what they needed.”
El Pomar annually awards $21 million in grants statewide.