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Troop

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Bennett Fire asks to remain Watkins provider



STEVEN VETTER
Staff Writer - Watkins residents might have to decide who provides emergency fire and medical services in the future.
During an Oct. 3 work/study session, Watkins trustees were told by Bennett Fire & Rescue officials that the department wishes to remain the town’s primary emergency services provider and that future plans include having at least three stations that could serve the community.
That presentation was in response to a previous discussion between town officials and another area emergency services provider.
In mid-August, Sable-Altura Fire & Rescue asked town officials to consider changing primary emergency service providers and that they have an approved $6 million bond that included $2 million being set aside for a new station in downtown Watkins.
According to Earl Cumley, Bennett Fire Chief, his department currently has four stations, two of which can directly service the Watkins planning area. In the future, Bennett plans to expand to seven stations, including having three or four that can provide service to Watkins.
“In addition to our two stations currently in Bennett, our station on [Highway] 36 east of Watkins, and the volunteer station at Quincy and County Road 129, we are looking to add stations at 88th Avenue and Highway 79 [north of Bennett], at Sky Ranch in Watkins (I-70 and Airpark Road), and we have been asked to build one at Front Range Airport,” Cumley said. “With that expansion, Watkins would have the services of at least three stations, with the possibility that the airport facility would also provide support.”
Cumley and Brad Hill, attorney for the department, indicated that an increase of the current 6.257 mill levy for the Bennett Fire Protection District isn’t expected in the near future because new stations are funded through a capital expansion fund which gets its money from fees paid by developments coming into the district.
Currently, residents in the 325-square-mile Bennett Fire Protection District — spanning 130th Avenue to the north, Arapahoe County Road 50 to the south, Monaghan Road to the west and the Lady Bird Hill area to the east — pay approximately $42 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
“Operational expenses are paid from the tax base derived from the mill levy,” Hill said. “A significant increase in those expenses may result in a bump in the mill levy, but that would be down the road.”
Cumley and Branden Baalman, district paramedic and firefighter, said that two career staff are now in place during the day at the Watkins station and that a shift program has been implemented to staff the station during the night with volunteer personnel.
“It’s been since the beginning of September that we have done this,” Cumley said. “Residents can be assured we have the staff and equipment available to meet their [emergency] demands.”
Bennett Fire has water availability from the town of Bennett, Antelope Hills, Front Range Airport and Prairie View and also has a 32,000-gallon cistern deeded over from Watkins Farms.
Baalman added that response times from the Watkins station average around 8 minutes.
This figure was disputed by Watkins Trustee Rick Grimm.
“I haven’t seen it, and haven’t heard that from any resident that I’ve talked to about this issue,” Grimm said.
In response, Cumley reiterated that the staffing of the Watkins station just started at the beginning of September and that previously volunteers had to get to the station prior to responding to an emergency or that emergency services came from Bennett.
“We really want to be your primary emergency services provider and making all efforts possible to give the town the staff, facilities and equipment needed to provide the best service possible,” Cumley said.
Grimm also said he is concerned with an ongoing rift between the Bennett and Sable-Altura districts and that more cooperation is needed between the two.
“I’m very concerned about the lack of cooperation between you (Bennett) and Sable-Altura because it’s the people you’re supposed to help in emergencies that are hurt by this,” Grimm said.
Grimm specifically cited instances that Sable-Altura was closer to emergencies but were not contacted by Bennett and vice versa. “It’s extremely concerning to me and should be to residents of this town.”
Cumley said he understands the concern and said that he has tried to contact Sable-Altura, but that those efforts haven’t been reciprocated.
Sable-Altura Chief Mark Campagnola, in attendance, said he has tried to contact Bennett and that the door has always been open at the station at Foxridge Farms and that Cumley hasn’t taken the opportunity.
Officials from both fire departments have accused the other of asking for assistance from stations or departments further away, thus sacrificing the health and safety of those in need of their services.
Cumley and Campagnola agreed to meet at Sable-Altura’s station at Foxridge Farms Oct. 5, but results of that meeting weren’t available at press time.
Watkins Mayor John Schmidt indicated that a change of the town’s emergency service provider would require a vote by the town’s residents, pending an affirmative vote of the town’s incorporation Nov. 7.

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This is an on-line publication of
The I-70 Scout
 

MikeyB

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Sable-Altura has always been a mystery to me. Does anybody remember the old days when they were Fire-Unit 800 on Adcom? Didn't they have a second station in a trailer park that got ripped up for Pena Blvd?

Regardless, it seems to me they cover almost no land or population, but they have great equipment for a department that responds to less than 100 calls/year. I've just never heard much about them, and now it looks like they want to expand.
 

Troop

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the bulk of the population is in Fox Ridge farms.....I can remember some time ago, the trailer they were using as living quarters burnt up while they were on a call
 

MikeyB

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Troop said:
the bulk of the population is in Fox Ridge farms.....I can remember some time ago, the trailer they were using as living quarters burnt up while they were on a call
And that's what I don't understand. They are very well equipped, with 3 engines, 1 brush, 1 tanker and 2 ambulances and they cover basically one trailer park and a bunch of undeveloped land.
 

ROOFLIFECO

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Your right about Sable being well equiped, thats for sure. I know that they got two of their Engines, 412 and 413 from North Metro fire after they were put out of service. They acutally ran I believe around 300 calls last year and are on about 250 this year. Reguardless, I agree that the majority of the area that they cover is Foxridge Farms, all the way down Powhatton Mile Road and from I-70 and Airpark to I-70 and E-470. The $6 million dollar bond that they recieved is what I do not understand. I mean, I can see the need for a new station since they have Three - Four apparatus parked out on the street most of the time, but I do not see the need for $6 million dollars. Sure, they may be expanding, but I doubt that there will be a need for a Heavy Rescue, Three ambulances, a 3000 gallon tender, a new command vehicle, and a tower ladder, or some form of areal. This is what I have heard that they will be purchacing in the near future here, along with plans for three new stations. I can see that with the new housing developments that they say they will be covering, they might boost their calls up around 500 or so, but I still don't see the need.
Watkins is a close call between Bennett Fire and SAFD thats for sure. Since both are volunteer, and both have paid staff Monday through Friday, they might be able to provide the same coverage. But as of now, Bennett is the main provider for Watkins and the main "shift response" station is located right at I-70 and Watkins and there are now two paid ALS staff there during the day too, so I guess we will have to see what happens...
 

n0doz

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One thing to keep in mind is that the major air routes in and out of DIA go over these little departments' areas. If cargo does in fact go to Front Range, you could add those routes, too. Since DIA's response area for an "incident" is a 5-mile radius (and FTG's may be the same if cargo moves over there), it would behoove the little guys to upgrade whenever they can afford it.
 

FiremanSparky

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Hello everyone
Let me try to set a few facts straight.
Sable Altura Fire Dept covers, roughly, Picidilly to the west, Airpark Rd. to the east, 88th Ave to the north, and Quincy to the south. Aurora has annexed a lot of properties in those bounderies, which is why our district map looks like, well, swiss cheese. We cover Foxridge Mobile Home Park, Gun Club Estates, Thunderbird Estates, New World subdivision (west of Picidilly Rd south of Colfax Ave), CIG gas plant, Amoco/BP Wattenbird gas plant, Right of Passage Youth Prison, and the TRACON facility at DIA, among others. We are under contract to E-470 for coverage from Jewell Ave. to 88th Ave. Aurora Fire co-responds in some areas. We will also respond, if requested, to Dove Hill, a subdivision which is not covered by ANY fire district (no man's land). We were approached by some in Watkins to provide fire/EMS services to the town. We did NOT approach them.
Our district population is just under 2000 people.
We are dispatched by ADCOM as Fire Unit 400. In the old days, we were Fire Unit 800.
We average 250-300 calls per year.
We currently operate two frontline Class A pumpers (Engine 411, purchased new, and Engine 413, purchased from North Metro Fire Rescue) with a third as a reserve (Engine 412, also purchased from North Metro Fire Rescue), one 3000 gallon tender (Tender 440), one 300 gallon brush truck (Brush Truck 430), one frontline ambulance (Medic 451) with another as a reserve (Medic 450), and a command vehicle (Tahoe 410). Other vehicles expected to be spec'd and purchased include a 100' Smeal Ladder, a 3000 gallon pumper/tender and a 1000 gallon brush truck. These trucks will be purchased as we expand.
Station 1 is located in the SW corner of Foxridge. We did have a mobile destroyed by fire years back, when we were dispatched by Aurora (Station 41), but that fire occured when no one was at the station. We were NOT on a call at the time. Aurora also dispatched a full district response mutual aid. Investigators from SAFD and Arapahoe County Sheriffs Office determined that the fire was caused by a faulty transformer on a piece of donated exercise equipment.
Station 2, with expected ground breaking to occur within a year, will be located near 88th Ave. and Tower Road. Plans are for the station to be built while a new subdivision is built in the area, along with light industrial and commercial buildings, which explains why we will be planning on the ladder when that time comes. Our old Station 2 was located on 56th and Buckley Rd. That was sold when Cunningham was running our district under contract to make way for Pena Blvd.
Station 3 will be located in Watkins IF we get the nod to provide fire EMS services to them.
With the number of accidents we have run, a heavy rescue with a 20' non walk-in body has been spec'd and ordered from SVI. This will be equiped with dual sets of extrication tools, a rear mount pump/foam system, 300 gallon water tank and 50 gallon foam tank. We expect delivery in about a year. It will also be used in conjunction with the Tech Rescue team that is being formed with SACFD.
Well, these are a few facts about the Department. Anyone wishing to do so can visit us at www.safd41.org if he/she would like to learn more. Hope this helps.
Frank
 
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jimmnn

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n0doz said:
One thing to keep in mind is that the major air routes in and out of DIA go over these little departments' areas. If cargo does in fact go to Front Range, you could add those routes, too. Since DIA's response area for an "incident" is a 5-mile radius (and FTG's may be the same if cargo moves over there), it would behoove the little guys to upgrade whenever they can afford it.
Speaking of upgrading has anyone else seen the new ARFF truck Buckley just got?

O my gosh 2.5 mill I think they said let me see if I can get a pict.

Jim<
 
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jimmnn

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OK especially after that wonderful detailed explanation of Sable I guess someone has to ask the question, why do these 1, 2 or even 3 station combination depts still survive in a metro area and do they provide the most cost effective and highest level of service for there tax payers? And it's not limited to Sable what about Cunningham, Edgewater, West Douglas, Jackson 105, Indian Hills, Inter Canyon, Federal Heights, Skyline, Wheat Ridge, SWAC, SAC, North Wash and I'm sure the list could go on. Are training, personnel and equiptment resources best used or would a south, north, west metro concept of merging be better?

Especially when Frank states well "aurora has annexed much of our swiss cheese district" and we have the remains subdivsions. Anyone else have to list the subdivisions or neighborhoods they cover.

Believe there is a national formula also that if EMT's and Paramedics run a certain number of calls per-shift there clinical care get better and the same has to hold true for FF's, and just seems less that one call a day does not cut it for a career department.

Anyone want to guess Denver Engine 8's or Aurora E-1 time to flow water vs Skyline Engine 81 at a working bedroom fire?

Ok let the flames begin.

Jim<
 

Moosemedic

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Speaking of FLAME WAR ....do these one and two station departments with one or two people on during the day have fires? When the one or two guys on duty have the one or two fires (STRUCTURE) each year, does the FF that drove the engine; when it catches up to the FF that drove the Tahoe, charge the line and run toward the nozzle together?

How about matching resources ($6M bond requests) to the need (an additional 150 EMS calls) and then looking for the BEST way to do that ?

Let's say there's 300 calls a year, 295 of them EMS, and 150 of those EMS calls are on high speed roadways, maybe a tandem axle Walk in Resuce with light tower and not a 100 ladder truck and a overloaded pickup from SVI?
 
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MikeyB

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jimmnn said:
And it's not limited to Sable what about Cunningham, Edgewater, West Douglas, Jackson 105, Indian Hills, Inter Canyon, Federal Heights, Skyline, Wheat Ridge, SWAC, SAC, North Wash and I'm sure the list could go on. Are training, personnel and equiptment resources best used or would a south, north, west metro concept of merging be better? Jim<
Some of the departments you mention I can definitely see where merger would be very effective. Denver Engine 24 can get to Skyline's district quicker than Skyline, unless it's one of the nights when they're having training at the station. Edgewater always seems very slow for responses when I hear calls for them. Wheat Ridge usually has an Engine, Brush, etc. out the door as quick as any career department I hear. I imagine you could combine some departments, but there is a large capital investment in building stations. For example, SWAC and North Washington could be merged and the stations consolidated and the locations optimized. But look what happened when Thornton and West Adams merged. But then look what happened when Lakewood and Bancroft Merged. Some of the rural departments such as Inter Canyon, Indian Hills, Jackson 105 are so spread out I can't imagine them any other way. I will say from a scanning and fire buff perspective, more different departments makes it more exciting!
 

jimmnn

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MikeyB said:
Some of the departments you mention I can definitely see where merger would be very effective. Denver Engine 24 can get to Skyline's district quicker than Skyline, unless it's one of the nights when they're having training at the station. Edgewater always seems very slow for responses when I hear calls for them. Wheat Ridge usually has an Engine, Brush, etc. out the door as quick as any career department I hear. I imagine you could combine some departments, but there is a large capital investment in building stations. For example, SWAC and North Washington could be merged and the stations consolidated and the locations optimized. But look what happened when Thornton and West Adams merged. But then look what happened when Lakewood and Bancroft Merged. Some of the rural departments such as Inter Canyon, Indian Hills, Jackson 105 are so spread out I can't imagine them any other way. I will say from a scanning and fire buff perspective, more different departments makes it more exciting!
The only debate I might have Mike and maybe it's not right for this forum is West Douglas uses South Metro for transport now and often 39's arrives onscene before any WD units do and same for Jackson they use Castle Rock for transport and CRFD often arrives first. Any working fire in any of those districts immediatly get's mutual aid from the career depts. What about Indian Hills big dollar homes going in and no weekday fire protection because all the vollies work in town, as a homeowner would you rather Indian Hills be paged 3 times for manpower or have West Metro career stations immediatly dispatched.

Jim<
 

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I'm not taking sides on any of this, since I have no dog in this hunt, but...
Most taxpayers do not know and/or do not care who thier FD is. Those here may find that hard to believe, but we're involved in emergency services in one way or another.
Also, people who live in subdivisions that border, but are not actually within a large city frequently do not know that they're not in that city, and don't receive sevices from that city. Some of this is due to some obfuscation from real estate agents, and some due to the ignorance of the homeowner who doesn't bother to read and/or understand thier tax bill and see who they're paying. I base all of this on first hand experiences while working for/with various FD's.
 

RISC777

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FiremanSparky said:
Anyone wishing to do so can visit us at www.safd41.org if he/she would like to learn more.
Bummer, Frank, the link times out and I can't get to that web site's server.


firescannerbob said:
Most taxpayers do not know and/or do not care who thier FD is.
I think that's quite true. I remember the sense of "having my eyes opened" when I first learned how the various districts are defined, who dispatches whom, (whose district and coverage I was in/under) etc.
 
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ROOFLIFECO

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firescannerbob said:
I'm not taking sides on any of this, since I have no dog in this hunt, but...
Most taxpayers do not know and/or do not care who thier FD is. Those here may find that hard to believe, but we're involved in emergency services in one way or another.
Also, people who live in subdivisions that border, but are not actually within a large city frequently do not know that they're not in that city, and don't receive sevices from that city. Some of this is due to some obfuscation from real estate agents, and some due to the ignorance of the homeowner who doesn't bother to read and/or understand thier tax bill and see who they're paying. I base all of this on first hand experiences while working for/with various FD's.
Amen to that Bob! Very well stated. I mean, when a person calls 911 for help, they do not care who is responding, they just want them there. Most people along the I-70 Corridor would not know the difference between Sable, Bennett, Strasburg, Byers, Deer Trail and Agate volunteer fire departments if they all came up and bit that person between the pockets. However, your correct. No matter how you look at it, all of the people that are with those departments are trained to one point or another, whether it be First Responder - Paramedic, Firefighter I-II, or what have you. Sure, our departments may not like one another and pass gossip, debates, "trash talk" and whatnot about eachother, but when we need that other department, they WILL be there to back up that other department. I mean, none of those departments east of 225 are anything like Aurora, Denver, South Metro, West Metro or what have you with IAFF, a union, 24 hour ALS staffing, nice rigs, etc, but they are volunteer, which means that they provide their services when available. They do the best they can with what they have. Sables $6mil bond, a $500,000 budget to cover EVERYTHING per year, and the list goes on, but those departments do have paid staff as well as the volunteers and that seems to be providing assistance to all of the community pretty well. Like I said, its all about working together. Sure it may look bad if you have to call another department to transport, but your still providing care. Aurora Station 12, Rural/Metro Ambulance, all of the other I-70 departments, and the big one, Air Life, are all there to provide ALS when and if we need them. Whew...
 

FiremanSparky

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Rooflifeco wrote:
"Sables $6mil bond, a $500,000 budget........"

FYI: SAFD's budget sure is NOT $500,000. If you are going to keep making a reference to us, both of your post's show it would help if you knew what you are talking about. Cadets..........
 
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