Why are you running for office and why are you the best candidate for the position?
I am running for a position on the ECFPD Board of Directors because my goal is to assist the department and my community in making our area as capable as possible in the prevention of fire situations and protect our citizens with realistic, efficient and sustainable emergency services. My experiences and education in emergency management and those as a volunteer and career firefighter help provide me with an in-depth view of issues and solutions related to fire and emergency services.
What are the three biggest challenges facing the Elk Creek Fire District?
Sustainable revenue streams: The upcoming sunset of the 2.5 mills has the potential impact of reducing services to meet those budget reductions. Staffing: Across the nation, volunteerism is waning, and the decrease of available personnel compromises our ability to protect our community. The constant need to staff our fire department with capable and competent firefighters is paramount. Environmental impacts: The rise in temperatures and the drought conditions experienced throughout Colorado, and the increase of tourism and travelers through our area, only compound the fire safety and emergency issues our community faces 365 days a year.
How do you propose tackling those challenges?
Revenue: Provide education to the ECFPD community re-emphasizing the need to support the mill levy ballot issue in November. Also, finding additional funding streams to help broaden staffing and protection capabilities. Staffing: Working with the chief to ensure continued recruitment of volunteers and to ensure our volunteers’ satisfaction and retention. Our paid firefighters are the backbone of initial emergency response, but our volunteers help increase community protection and safety of all firefighters. Environmental: Increasing volunteer and career firefighter staffing will help address some concerns and ECFPD’s utilization of current technologies and best practices to ensure appropriate responses to this issue.
What experience or expertise would you bring to the Elk Creek board?
Throughout my 37-year career as a firefighter, I have worked to educate myself on topics relevant to fire protection and emergency management. My studies with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, and my college degrees in management, fire science, and soon a bachelor’s degree in emergency service administration complement my ability to provide credible and relevant insight into everyday operations and management of the ECFPD. With four years of ECFPD Board of Director experience, I also bring relevant perspective and awareness related to the current fire protection and emergency response issues currently faced by our community and ECFPD.
What would you do to promote openness and transparency in government?
ECFPD has processes in place to provide openness and transparency that is accountable to all. As the current president of the board, I have worked with my fellow board members to respect these principles and follow the standards defined by section 32-1-809 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. In addition to the transparency information found on ECFPD’s website, each board meeting allows for a public forum. Therefore, any individual may speak directly to the board members during this time. If there were additional concerns, I would then promote the utilization of the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) process to ensure transparency.
How can Elk Creek better educate residents about fire mitigation?
Increasing the awareness that ECFPD currently utilizes the Wildfire Prepared Program, which promotes wildfire awareness, education and action for all of our residents. This program, along with the ECFPD Community Ambassador Program, allows our residents to request a professional evaluation of the external conditions of their homes and surrounding property to determine their susceptibility to wildfire and needed actions to make their homes more defensible. This fire mitigation information is provided at monthly board meetings, included in the newsletter mailed out quarterly to homes in the district, available at the ECFPD office and accessible on ECFPD’s website 24/7.
Inter-Canyon, Elk Creek, Indian Hills and North Fork fire departments are discussing consolidation. What is the biggest asset to such a merger, and what is the biggest barrier?
Biggest asset: The collaboration of resources and increased protection potential for the communities involved in the merger would be the most significant benefit related to the proposal. Together we are stronger and more capable in our effort to provide emergency service than we are as individual departments. Biggest barrier: Incorporating different funding streams among the departments would be the most significant barrier to the consolidation. This funding issue will take a degree of legal finesse to navigate each department’s financial commitment with differing mill levies.
Do you feel that consolidation is a wise decision for Elk Creek?
I am overwhelmingly in favor of this consolidation. With the realization that more people are visiting and living in our area and that volunteerism is decreasing nationally, our districts can work together to stay ahead of these trends by combining efforts to increase our area’s fire protection and emergency response capabilities. Most importantly, the increased abilities of these departments will help improve the health and safety of all of our firefighters responding to emergencies every day in our community.
Two large residential developments are being proposed in the Elk Creek Fire District. What is the department’s responsibility to ensuring it can provide emergency services to all of its constituents?
Every proposed development plan goes through ECFPD’s evaluation process to determine if it meets the most current fire codes. These national standards are the first step in ensuring suitable service and protection capabilities. ECFPD then makes recommendations to the developer if fire code or protection concerns exist after the county’s initial permit process. While ECFPD cannot legally stop these developments unless there are flagrant fire code and life safety violations, we can help manage these projects. Working collaboratively with the developers and the county ensures appropriate and sustainable growth, which is key to providing emergency services to our citizens.
How can Elk Creek improve communication with constituents?
ECFPD has monthly board meetings, a newsletter mailed quarterly to homes in the district and a website providing up-to-date information. Outreach efforts also occur at businesses and schools to help educate individuals on fire safety practices. As these efforts continue, fire dangers do not stop, so it is inherent that we work together to help promote these opportunities to our friends and neighbors. As residents of the ECFPD community, we need to take ownership of our responsibility to help make our area as fire-safe as possible. Working together is the best option we have to improve communication throughout our community.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
I am committed to our community. In 2018 I became an ECFPD board member because I wanted to help make our community and our fire department better. In an effort to ensure suitable and sustainable growth along with appropriate fire protection capabilities, I was personally sued by a developer for my decision not to support what I believe is an unrealistic proposal presented to the ECFPD Board of Directors. I stand by my decision and will defend it in court. Finally, I am incredibly proud that I have been endorsed by Elk Creek Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 4710.