TFPD Board considers constructing communications tower

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Improving communications in southwestern Boulder County

By Patty Unruh


The Timberline Fire Protection District (TFPD) Board had its regular meeting November 10. Present were President Jim Crawford, Vice Chair Rick Wenzel, Treasurer Rik Henrikson, and Secretary Paul Ondr. Member at Large Chip Smith participated by telephone. Also present were Assistant Chief Galen Koepke and Business Manager Jennifer Hinderman. Acting Chief Chris Schimanskey was absent.

Public Comment

John Carder expressed a hope that in the hiring of a new chief, the Board doesn’t “resort to kicking the can down the road. We need someone who can move us forward,” he said. Although he had a high opinion of Chief Schimanskey, he believed that taking the temporary chief and making him the permanent chief would tend to keep things in their present status.

GCART (Gilpin County Animal Response Team) had sent TFPD a thank-you for providing a water bladder tank.

Treasurer’s Report

Henrikson presented the unaudited financial statements as of October 31. Total in checking and savings was $623,987. Total expenditures from checking were $206,859; of that, $162,340 was paying out an AFG grant for 27 air packs.

Total charged on credit cards was $2,893. It was noted that all receipts had been turned in, and the expenses charged were about half what had been typical.

Electrical expenses at Station 2 were high at $4,143 year to date. An electrical audit had been performed by United Power, which revealed something wrong with the well pump at that station. It runs all the time and apparently has for years. A new one may be needed. It was hoped that the repair or replacement of the pump would significantly cut that expense next year.

Chief’s Report

Koepke presented the Chief’s Report. The Chief had met with Steve Watson at Gilpin County Dispatch to resolve report issues; call signs would be changed for a few of the apparatus. Dispatch will participate in recruit communications training.

Burn permits are being issued and site inspections handled by officers.

There were 37 calls in October, generally routine.

Four personnel went to the Heil Valley Ranch (Boulder County) prescribed burn.

TFPD is working with Gilpin Ambulance to develop a basic medical training for new members. Gilpin Ambulance is also providing hepatitis B shots since the clinic in Black Hawk has closed.

The funeral for retired firefighter Bob Walsh was held November 5. The Chief expressed thanks to Black Hawk Fire for the use of their antique/ceremonial fire truck and to Central City Fire and Gilpin Ambulance for their support.

A DOLA (Department of Local Affairs) grant was awarded for $19,170 for 2015 road safety equipment.

A meeting is scheduled for November 20 with staff from Arapahoe County about reviewing the grant award for an air and light trailer. Delivery of the trailer is to be in 2015.

Crawford noted that an open AFG grant will close in mid-December. He recommended using the grant for bunker gear, if received.

Trucks will be outfitted and inventoried by January 1, 2015. They are currently 80 percent complete.

An intergovernmental agreement is being written with Gilpin Ambulance; cost sharing and reduction is being worked on.

Telephones at Stations 1, 4, and 7 are to be activated next week. 911 phones will also be in service at that time. Hinderman said that former chief Chris Jennings had had the phones turned off “a long time ago.”

Communications Tower Project

Koepke reported on a plan to improve radio communications capability for fire/rescue response in southwestern Boulder County. Koepke, a radio frequency engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, met with the Boulder County Commissioners to present the plan, which was approved. He said communication is especially difficult in the area of Magnolia Road, County Road 68, Winiger Ridge, Pinecliffe, and along Highways 72 and 119 due to terrain.

TFPD plans to construct a 29.5-foot steel tower next to Station 4, located at 5927 Magnolia Drive. The tower would support a 20-foot vertical VHF antenna, along with a small microwave antenna for Internet reception, and a few weather instruments. The addition of the tower and antenna, along with the base radios in Station 4, will improve the communication coverage in that area, Koepke said. The tower would be located behind the fuel tanks, about 35 to 40 feet from the station wall. A survey has already been done.

At present, Board members noted, it is necessary to sit in a truck or walk up the hill to get radio reception at Station 4.

Koepke estimated the potential cost at $8,000 for the hardware, minus a radio repeater, and said it would take about two years to go through the licensing process. At this time, a base radio is proposed, with no repeater, but Koepke said that could be a future option. Crawford commented that the project would have to be worked into the 2015 budget.

It was also stated that offers had been received from several Internet providers for free service if an access point was put on the tower.

Fire Chief Issues

Regarding outstanding issues from former chief Jennings’ resignation, Smith questioned whether a response had been received from the last certified letter TFPD sent to Jennings. The answer was “no.”

In the plan to hire a new chief, it was agreed that the Board needed to decide on an affordable salary.

2015 Property Inclusion

The Board plans to start the 2015 property inclusion open season process in December. They will identify properties that need to be included in the District and send letters to the property owners, including those owners who did not respond to letters for the 2014 season.

Surplus Property Disposal

The Board examined its policy on surplus property disposal. After discussion, the Board decided more work needed to be done before finalizing the policy at the December meeting.

Contract – Rollinsville Building

The Board approved renewing the contract for TFPD’s building in Rollinsville with Gilpin County at the current rental rate.

Truck Matters

TFPD has several trucks for sale. The Board discussed the District’s Pierce fire truck, priced at $30,000. Ondr said that although several people had contacted him recently about the truck, there were no real prospects. He suggested that TFPD should consider asking for less, but there had been talk about putting the truck back in service. Ondr was concerned that using the truck would result in expensive repairs. The members decided to lower the price to $19,900, to keep the truck out of service, and to wait until the end of February to see if anyone purchased it. It was agreed to wait until the March meeting to revisit the disposition of that truck and the others that are for sale.

A 2014 Dodge truck had been purchased several months ago for $47,534, which was $534 more than the price the Board had approved at its August meeting. The Board approved appropriating an additional $534 for the truck at the November meeting, noting that the truck would need lights added. Ondr volunteered to check on pricing for lights.

Records Retention

The Board adopted a Resolution Adopting the Colorado Special District Records Management Manual. The resolution is a formality stating that there is a need for a comprehensive records management manual for the District’s non-permanent records. The Colorado State Archives has developed a state-wide Records Management Manual for Colorado’s special districts to use.

Executive Session

The Board went into executive session regarding contract negotiations and legal issues with former chief Jennings and legal issues regarding Station 8.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for December 10 at 7 p.m. at Station 3, 660 Highway 46, and will include a pension board meeting.

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