Both Inter-Canyon and Evergreen fire officials will move forward with building replacement stations despite construction costs being higher than expected.
Both departments are making plans to build smaller stations that meet the budgets they have set.
- For Evergreen, that means the new Station 1 on Highway 73 south of Buffalo Park Road will be about 16,500 square feet rather than 18,000 square feet to meet the $7 million budget.
Evergreen Fire/Rescue has moved from the macro-design to the micro-design of its new station that will replace the station on Highway 73 near downtown Evergreen. The department is in a time crunch to build a new station because Jefferson County is planning to widen Highway 73 from Buffalo Park Road to Plettner Lane in 2023.
- For Inter-Canyon, that means its new Station 3 on U.S. 285 will be built in two phases, with the first phase including four rather than six truck bays and office space, crew quarters and a training room to meet its $5 million budget. It will wait to rebuild Station 1 on South Turkey Creek and Deer Creek Canyon Road.
Inter-Canyon Fire Chief Skip Shirlaw told the fire board on March 9 that officials are working with two contractors. They are “reverse engineering” the plans, working them so an addition can be constructed at a later date.
“I really think we can accomplish this,” Shirlaw said. “We’re back on track.”
In January, Inter-Canyon officials said they needed to go back to the drawing board because a bid for Station 3 came in at twice the price the district budgeted. The money budgeted for Station 1 will now go to the first phase of Station 3.
Shirlaw said contractors are being told Inter-Canyon wants to move into the new Station 3 in February 2024.
285 Corridor departments want consultant to help with consolidation effort
The chiefs of the four 285 Corridor fire departments plan to ask their boards to hire a consultant to help present the idea to constituents.
Inter-Canyon, Elk Creek, Indian Hills and North Fork fire departments are considering consolidation, and Inter-Canyon Chief Skip Shirlaw told the fire board on March 9 that the chiefs are stuck on how to move forward.
“We’re looking for a consultant to ‘herd us cats’ in all the work we’re trying to do,” Shirlaw said, including how to get information out to residents in the four districts about the proposed consolidation, whether to consider a mill-levy increase and more.
A more specific proposal will be brought to the fire boards in April.
Looking for drones
Inter-Canyon Fire continues to work with Foothills Fire in Genesee to move forward with using drones to aid in firefighting.
Capt. John Mandl told the Inter-Canyon fire board on March 9 that the two fire departments were learning more about drones, their cost and their capabilities, and they hope to buy a couple that could be used by all foothills fire departments through mutual aid.
Board president Mike Swenson said the growth of drone usage by various industries is increasing dramatically, saving money and providing better information faster.
Drones can be used to assess slash-pile burning, structural fires, wildfires and more, Mandl said.
Waiting to fill a vacancy
The Inter-Canyon fire board has decided not to replace board member Dmitriy Pantyukhin, who recently resigned, until after the May 3 election. Four people are running for three seats on the board. The board plans to appoint someone to that position after the election.
Evergreen Fire/Rescue will begin requiring sprinklers in all new home construction and renovations that change 50% of the home.
Fire inspector Rachel Rush told the EFR board on March 8 that in the past, homes that were 3,000 square feet or larger needed sprinklers.
“This will make everyone safer,” Rush said. “It gives people a better chance to get out of a house in case of a structure fire.”
Evergreen Fire/Rescue officials have been working with a committee of volunteers to complete a SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats — analysis of the department.
The highlights, Fire Operations Chief Bill Cronk told the EFR board on March 8, include:
- strengths: the variety of backgrounds and experiences of the volunteers, strong training program and community support;
- weaknesses: barriers to recruiting, low volunteer numbers and the department’s resistance to change;
- opportunities: bringing firefighters who live in Evergreen but work in other fire departments on board as volunteers in Evergreen;
- threats: recruiting methods, difficulty trying new things and making changes.
Cronk said the volunteers are excited about changes to recruiting methods, which have been successful this year with up to 50 recruits expected to join the volunteer ranks in the next six to nine months.