“The district board and division chiefs heard community members regarding our wildland operations and prioritized changes to this team for 2022.“
With the start of the New Year, all of us at Evergreen Fire/Rescue thank you for your support as we strive to provide a high level of service and work toward accomplishing our strategic goals. The year 2021 was one of triumphs and challenges. From the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, a wet early summer which transitioned to a fall and early winter drought increasing the threat of wildfires, the continuation of infrastructure projects including the replacement of Station 1, and the expansion of our radio network coverage, to rising prices and supply chain issues, we keep your safety and our duty to the community first and foremost. We are committed to keeping the district informed of our activities and how your tax dollars are utilized through the availability of our current and prior year’s budget, our strategic plan, and our annual reports shared on our website. Call for service numbers, response data, completed and ongoing projects, and other important information will be released in our 2021 State of the District report this spring.
In the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division, the COVID-19 response and prevention has featured prominently. After the vaccine became available in January, we partnered with Jefferson County Public Health, New West Physicians, and Jogan Health to provide a location for vaccine distribution. Since April, approximately 1,800 vaccines have been administered at the EFR administration building. These clinics have seen periods of fluctuating demand, long lines, and a transition to appointments from walk-in availability to manage both the supply and the number of individuals seeking the vaccination. We hope that as 2022 progresses, the number of cases will fall and new variants will be stopped quickly. The EMS division, led by Chief David Montesi, ordered a new ambulance in October of 2020 with delivery expected in 2022. Four paramedics are on duty through 48-hour shifts responding to approximately 1,613 calls for service in 2021.
The Evergreen Community Assistance Referral and Education Services (ECARES) and the Community Integrated Health Care (CIHC) programs have continued to grow during 2021. The community paramedics had 120 patient or community contacts for the year providing services as varied as helping to locate additional resources our residents need as well as home health visits such as medication management in support of aging in place. EFR has three certified community paramedics on staff with three more paramedics currently working on the certification process. Evaluation was completed during the year to determine the need for ECARES assistance. An intern position was studied and will be introduced in 2022 to provide support to the program. Discussions are ongoing with neighboring agencies to expand these programs as the need exists all along the Front Range. During 2021, Annie’s Shed was started as a repository of support items such as walkers, crutches, shower seats and other equipment for the community. Donations of durable medical equipment are accepted.
Led by Chief Mason Duncan, the Fire Operations division participated in over 2,400 calls and obtained 10,040 hours of training during 2021. The volunteer firefighters make an annual commitment to respond to structure fires, wildland fires, medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, fire alarms, odor/smoke checks and many more calls for service. A dozen of the firefighters and fire officers attended the state Fire Chief’s Leadership Challenge for a week focused on company officer, chief officer and executive chief officer leadership classes. As part of our specialized training for driver engineers to operate the assorted district fire apparatus, a bootcamp was held to support the advancement of the firefighters through the different levels of operation. These levels range from driving an ambulance with lights and sirens to driving and operating the 85-foot aerial ladder truck. New self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment was received during the year and specialized training was held to support its use.
Each year, the Fire Operations division has held an academy for new firefighters to join EFR. Extensively studied over the past years, this will be changed in 2022 to offer more opportunities to join the academy at various stages rather than a once-a-year entry point. In coordination with the EMS division, there will be an opportunity for community members to volunteer as medical reserve team members, with the first class beginning in January 2022. There will also be an opportunity for wildland fire reserve team members and others as the program develops.
The EFR Fire Prevention division, led by Chief James King as Fire Marshal, has the primary focus of risk reduction through fire inspections and fire education for the community. Chief King worked diligently on the adoption of the updated International Wildland Urban Interface Code (IWUI) by The Evergreen Fire Protection District board of directors with the hope that it will be implemented by both Jefferson and Clear Creek Counties. The IWUI Code works in conjunction with the International Fire Code (IFC) to provide standards for safe development and construction practices in the wildland urban interface. Fire education included a push to get more members of the community signed up for emergency notifications and Community Connect to aid us in reaching residents in the event of an emergency. With a population of approximately 27,500 in the Evergreen Fire Protection District, 15,393 people and 203 businesses had registered for emergency notifications as of May 2021. Community Connect has 565 people registered. Smoke detectors are installed in homes where none are found during ECARES visits.
The wildland section of the Fire Prevention division continued to expand the number of Community Wildfire Protection and Implementation Plan (CWPIP) documents that were started and completed, and have initiated work on their identified projects to improve their neighborhood safety during 2021. At the end of the year, a total of 15 CWPIPs have been completed of the 26 plan units that were identified by the 2020 Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). In the second year of operation, the fuel reduction crew chipped 896 slash piles for property owners. The crew cut 16.3 acres for Denver Mountain Parks removing approximately 27 truckloads or 67,500 cubic feet of slash from this area close to downtown Evergreen.
Ongoing fuel break projects, in cooperation with CWPIP groups, Denver Mountain Parks and Colorado State Forest Service, have been implemented south of Turkey Creek, in Indian Creek Park Ranch and in Dedisse Park. In the Evergreen Highlands, 20 defensible space areas have been marked for mitigation. Plans are in place to treat 64 acres across multiple homeowner’s associations in the North Turkey Creek Community Protection Project. In North Evergreen, approximately 65 acres of roadside fuel break along Highway 103 has been funded for work in 2022 through a State Fire Assistance (SFA) grant. The district board and division chiefs heard community member suggestions regarding our wildland operations and prioritized changes to this team for 2022 to better meet community needs. Jess Moore was hired as the Community Risk Reduction Coordinator in October and Matt White was hired as the Wildland Mitigation Specialist in November. They, along with Wildland Specialist Scott Adams, will be initiating revisions to better support our CWPIP leaders and teams, a home assessment program, and the return in the spring of our seasonal fuels reduction crews for chipping and cutting projects. Chief Weege continued to participate in the second year of the Jeffco Wildfire Risk Reduction Task Force, which will transition into a Wildfire Commission in January of 2022.
The Fleet and Facility Maintenance division at EFR works diligently keeping our apparatus, buildings and properties in order. They received some landscaping help from a herd of goats at Station 7 during the summer. Over the course of 2021, a request for quotes for the replacement or refurbishment of a water tender was published. This helped EFR determine that the best course of action is to place a new water tank and equipment storage box assembly on the existing water tender chassis. This work will be performed in 2022.
Chief Weege continues to serve as a board member of Jeffcom 911, our consolidated communications center (jeffcom911.org). During 2021, Jeffcom received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and began to work toward Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) accreditation. A critical incident dispatch vehicle and mobile communications unit was placed on order that can be sent to the site of an incident for on scene communications support. During May, an emergency test notification was performed county wide, which revealed that 521,321 messages were recorded as sent with approximately 30 percent shown as being answered. This information helped EFR recognize the need to encourage our community to sign up for emergency notifications. Links to sign up are available on our website under the tab, “I want to… ”
Our auxiliary group, the Turnouts, continued to add new members during 2021. The Turnouts have become an invaluable support team to EFR, providing meals for trainings and meetings, rehab for incidents, and staffing for special events. They successfully held a food drive for EChO to help refill the pantry shelves.
The Administration division, under the direction of Fire Chief Mike Weege, started and completed several projects during 2021. After a request for proposals to design a new website was published in October of 2020, 45 proposals were received. We selected Revize to complete the new site, and it was successfully launched in August of 2021. We have provided a more easily navigated site and enhanced access to the information you need. A large-scale radio expansion project is ongoing. This will add towers at three locations. It will provide better radio coverage and act as a backup to the existing tower network. District-owned property at Troutdale Scenic Drive was sold to the Montessori School during the year.
Following the approval of the mill levy increase by the community during the election cycle in 2016, EFR began to set aside savings to replace the current Station 1 which was built in 1965-1966. Since that time, the district has purchased properties with the intent of combining Stations 1 and 4 at one location. In late 2020, a request for proposals was released for the design and construction of a new fire station. Site visits were made by 26 groups during January, and subsequently 13 groups submitted proposals for consideration. After review by a building committee made up from each division and two district board members, this was narrowed to five groups that were invited to make a presentation to the committee. The building committee then made site visits to fire stations constructed by the top three groups. The team of F+D International and Symmetry Construction were selected from this process and a contract was prepared with F+D for the design and project management. During 2022, the designs and construction estimates for the station will be completed with the goal of beginning the construction of the new station in 2023 as our funding allows. It is planned that this station will be 10 bays to contain the combined fire and EMS apparatus currently housed at Stations 1 and 4, along with the quarters and office space necessary for crews to be housed at this location. During 2022, EFR will undertake a study of the existing Station 4 property to determine its best future use. As plans for the new station are further developed, we will provide the community with opportunities to view this process.
For further information about the activities and programs undertaken to fulfill our commitment to our community, or to explore opportunities to join EFR, contact us at 303.674.3145 or visit evergreenfirerescue.com.