Fire departments hampered in reaching house fire

Potential pension increase, chief is now local resident, ISO

By Lynn Volkens

Timberline Fire Protection District (TFPD)’s Board of Directors met the evening of February 19, 2013. Board President Rick Wenzel and Board members Jim Crawford, Kay Johnson, Paul Ondr and Chris Samuelson were present. The Board amended the minutes from the January 14, 2013 meeting to make the distinction that discussion during Executive Sessions had been with the “paralegal” vs. the “attorney.”  

Can a Fire Truck Get to YOUR Home?

  Fire Chief Chris Jennings noted that Black Hawk Fire Department (BHFD) and TFPD had successfully saved a residence, although the kitchen was fully engulfed at the time of arrival. They had problems getting their vehicles to the house due to the roads and driveways not being maintained well enough to allow larger vehicles access- mainly that trees and shrubs had encroached. Jennings said BHFD had incurred $4,000 in damage to their rescue truck and asked the Board to approve TFPD covering BHFD’s insurance deductible as the location of the fire was within TFPD’s jurisdiction. The Board approved the expenditure via consensus and directed Jennings to include a letter of thanks. Had this fire occurred while wild land fires threatened, Jennings said it was doubtful TFPD would have sent vehicles to this scene as they couldn’t be sure of getting them back out. TFPD would like homeowner associations and individual homeowners to make sure all roads and driveways are wide enough to accommodate fire vehicles, preferably with a turn-around spot. The wild land fire season looks to be an active one this year-there have been two local wild land fires already. TFPD is unwilling to send personnel and vehicles to a scene where they may become trapped. “We need a public awareness campaign,” Jennings stated.

Recent Calls

  During the time period spanning January 1- February 13, 2013, the total number of calls was 47. The breakdown  by call type: Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Excluding Motor Vehicle Accidents, 9; Medical Assist (assist EMS crew), 9; Dispatched and Cancelled En Route, 9; Non-Injury Motor Vehicle Accident, 4; Smoke or Odor Investigation, 3; Rescue EMS/Other, 2; Structure Fire, 2; Special Type Incident, 2; Chimney Fire, 1; Alarm System Activated-Unintentional, 1; Dispatched But No Incident Found at Arrival, 1; Special Outside Fire/Other, 1; Forest, Woods or Wild Land Fire, 1; Carbon Monoxide Detector Activation, 1; and EMS/Other, 1. 

What’s Our Insurance Rating?

  Residents in TFPD’s jurisdiction, and their insurance agents, have been calling to ask for TFPD’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. Technically, TFPD doesn’t have one, however administrative staff answers that the district would qualify for a rating of “9.” They just can’t put that in writing. Jennings said the district would have to lower that rating to an “8” before homeowners would see any benefit to their insurance premiums and that would only be if their particular insurance company puts any stock in the rating. Challenges to lowering the rating include a lack of three years’ worth of vehicle maintenance records and the ability to deliver 30,000 gallons of water in a two-hour time span. On the latter, Jennings said the district could call on their mutual aid partners to help with water delivery, but could not use county tankers as part of that equation.

Station 2 Update

  Station 2, located at Pine Drive, is currently staffed with four firefighters but has no lieutenant. Jennings said the district is not using the station much, just to park trucks there. Gilpin Ambulance Authority (GAA) houses a crew there, however. A recently discovered problem with the septic system, possibly a crushed pipe, had Jennings wondering just how much money to put into it, since TFPD “does not need that scale of a system.” Cost-sharing may be one way of going, he suggested.

Apparatus Update

  TFPD is selling most of their apparatus and replacing it with customized engines and tenders currently on order and being manufactured at Rosenbauer America. Three new fire engines are now in production and two are expected to arrive mid-March. Two tenders will go into production shortly and are expected to be delivered mid-April. Jennings said he is considering accepting delivery of the final trucks at April’s Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis, IN as an industry magazine has expressed interest in doing a story on them.

Sold: Engine 4 (2001 International KME) for $129,000; Engine 2 (2003 FL Smeal), $119,000; Tender 4 (1994 GMC Monroe), $49,000; Squad 2 (1978 Chevrolet), $2,500; and Brush 3 (1988 Chevrolet), $10,000.

Pending Sales: Engine 3 (2000 HME Custom)-party in Canada is interested (asking price $145,000); Engine 1 (1999 HME Firemaster)-party securing USDA loan, expected to sell mid-March (asking price $89,000, discussion of $84,000); and Engine 6 (1983 International Arapahoe)-party awaiting bank financing (asking price $15,000).

Parties have inquired about: Brush 7 (2002 Ford), $59,000; Brush 6 (2004 Ford), $49,000; Brush 2 (2004 Ford), $39,000;

Also For Sale: Tender 7 (2000 International Pemna), asking price of $40,000; Brush 4 (2001 Ford), $39,000; Engine 7 (1989 Pierce Dash), $29,000; Tender 1 (1980 International E-One), $15,000; Tender 5 (1980 International E-One), $15,000; and Engine 5 (1980 International E-One), $15,000.

TFPD is retaining Tender 3 (2008 HME 3,000-gallon tanker) valued at $250,000 and Rescue 1 (2008 GMC) valued at $99,000. Jennings said TFPD is on track to exceed their target goal of $349,000 in proceeds from apparatus sales.

Financial Update

  Expenditures for the month of January 2013 totaled $64,155. A highlight of expenditures includes $6,450 in brokering fees for apparatus sales; $1,500 escrow payment for new trucks; $10,497 to Oz Architecture for the Station 1 feasibility study; $5,057 for vehicle repairs/parts; $2,262 for fuel; $2,151 to heat stations; $1,296 for electricity; $3,166 in credit card expenditures; $979 for training; $997 for station phones/ cell phones/ iPad/ internet/etc.; $1,990 for Station 8 building/inspection fees; $420 for uniforms; and $90.98 for DirecTV.

The General Fund began January with a balance of $374,921 and ended with $260,725. That includes the TABOR Reserve of $83,292. The Capital Fund began January with a balance of $407,222, received $129,000 in proceeds from apparatus sales and was debited for the brokerage and debt service fees of $7,950 resulting in an ending balance of $528,272. The Boulder Water Fund contained $3,622. The Pension Fund held $1,504,843.

Possible Pension Pay-Out Increase

  The Board approved a $1,200 expenditure for an actuarial study. TFPD is allowed a free actuarial study every two years, however must pay for this study which is being ordered because the district is looking at increasing the pension pay out for existing members who were “sunsetted” in 2012. The study will provide three scenarios which encompass increases of $1, $2 and $3. TFPD expects to receive the Actuarial Study in August. The Pension Board will then decide if or by how much the pension pay-out will be increased.

Chief’s Employment Agreement

  The Board had approved a “working agreement” for the Chief’s employment at their January meeting. They approved the final version at this meeting which stipulates the Chief is an “at will” employee with a 24-month term of employment (January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2015) at an annual salary of $85,000. TFPD pays 75% of the Employee Only portion of the Chief’s benefits package for health care, dental and vision, plus an additional $3,300 per annum to be used for health care purposes only. TFPD pays 8% of the Chief’s salary as a retirement benefit plus vacation accrual per the personnel manual. The Chief must live within five miles of TFPD boundaries by March 1, 2013. (Chief Jennings said he had been living “in the Apex area” since January 13th.) TFPD provides the Chief with a vehicle for use within the scope of the job.

The Performance Review/Evaluation process for the Chief is still a work in progress, Wenzel said.

Training Changes

  Jennings told the Board that the annual Wild Land Fire Training refresher course (RT-130) will be done in-house this year. Jennings had attended Facilitated Instructor training so that he can coordinate the in-house training classes. A class covering paperwork requirements is being planned for TFPD’s senior officers and administrative staff in partnership with BHFD and the state Fire Management Officer (FMO). A four-month course for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) First Responder certification will be offered in-house via a partnership with GAA. Jennings said eighteen people had expressed interest in the course so far and that he thinks it is the right level of EMT training for TFPD’s volunteers. In the works for April and May is a six-class program culminating in a live fire at the burn building,

Dispatch Changes

Gilpin County Dispatch is now using a three-digit identifier system. TFPD’s identifier, the number “5,” will be inserted in the radio communications beginning March 1. For example Engine 7, currently identified as “E-7” will become “E-57.” TFPD will add the “5” to the graphics on the new fire trucks, however there are no plans to change all the labeling on personal gear, such as helmets.

Wanted: New Board President

  “I don’t want to be Board President anymore,” Wenzel announced, and requested the Board look at re-assigning the Board officer positions at the April meeting.

Central City “Inclusion” Update

  TFPD has put the Central City “inclusion” on hold until hearing back from Central City on whether or not they still wish to pursue it.

Website Update

  TFPD’s updated website, is up and running, thanks to the work of two volunteer firefighters, Jan Ingebrigtsen and Rob Savoy. Wenzel and Jennings acknowledged their work on the site with thanks. Not all aspects of the site are functional yet, but TFPD will keep working on it, Jennings said.

Heads Up

  Timberline Fire’s Board of Directors meets next on March 20, 2013. Tentatively planned for that meeting are a Volunteer Fire Insurance Services (VFIS) presentation, an Oz Architecture presentation on the Station 1 Feasibility Study, review and possible approval of the Metropolitan Mutual Aid Agreement and a Pension Board meeting.

The Annual Awards Banquet has been scheduled for April 13, 2013 at Roy’s Last Shot.

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