Evergreen Fire/Rescue is putting into motion a plan to allow firefighters to specialize in the types of calls they train for and respond to.
Fire Chief Mike Weege told the fire board on Jan. 12 that in the past, all firefighters in the department were trained in all types of calls: interior fires, exterior fires, wildland fires, water rescues, hazardous materials and more. However, some firefighters get to the point where they prefer responding to certain types of calls.
“We’ve come to the realization that people silo themselves,” Weege said. “If you like structure firefighting, that’s what you do.”
To help recruit volunteer firefighters and keep them, the district is changing its training procedures. All firefighters will be trained in the basics of the different types of firefighting, but each firefighter afterward will decide how much additional training he or she wants. The new system will allow firefighters to continue training and perform duties they are more comfortable with, he explained.
“This will open doors for those who want to volunteer but don’t want the extensive training,” Weege said. “That’s a big positive. I’m anxious to see how the next two years plays out.”
He gave an example of nurses who could respond to medical calls for the department without having to train in firefighting.
He said there was some hesitation among the firefighters when the plan was rolled out, but for the most part, they see it as a good opportunity.
24 firms interested in building Station 1
Evergreen Fire/Rescue has received inquiries from 24 firms interested in designing and overseeing the construction of a new fire station on Highway 73 that will replace Station 1.
Fire department personnel are meeting with firm representatives over four days to walk the area that includes the Evergreen Mountain Market property, the parcel to the south and a property with a home on it behind the market.
Weege told the fire board on Jan. 12 that there was a lot of excitement from the firms about the site.
“It’s fun to get people’s thoughts on what we could do with the property,” he said.
Proposals are due March 15 and will be made public before the EFR board makes a decision in April on who to hire.
The building is expected to cost around $8 million. The district already has spent about $1.5 million to purchase the land. The new station will have about a dozen bays for trucks, office and meeting space, crew quarters, and parking for paid and volunteer staff, according to the request for proposals.
Fire stations may be School of Mines capstone project
Evergreen Fire/Rescue is hoping to get some help from the Colorado School of Mines with its fire stations.
The department has put in a project that can be considered a capstone course at the school. Weege told the fire board on Jan. 12 that the project would include a possible design for the new Station 1 on Highway 73 and analyzing the district’s eight fire stations to determine if the entire fire district has proper coverage.
Weege explained that this would be a two-semester capstone course, and EFR’s fire stations is one of several proposed projects that students can choose. He didn’t know if the EFR project would be selected.
“It’s always good to look at whether we need to add stations,” Weege said. “The students would have a good project, and it would get us some good information.”
Department answers 2,300 calls in 2020
Evergreen Fire/Rescue answered 2,376 calls in 2020, up 24 calls from 2019.
Fire Chief Mike Weege said during the Jan. 12 fire board meeting that the department answered fewer calls in the early months of the pandemic because people, afraid to go to the hospital, didn’t call 911.
Calls are up 10% over the last five years, he said.