By Patty Unruh
The Timberline Fire Protection District Board (TFPD) held its monthly meeting on February 18 at Station 3. Members present were Jim Crawford, Rick Wenzel, Rik Henrikson, Paul Ondr, and Chip Smith (via telephone). Assistant Chief Gaylen Koepke and Business Manager Jennifer Hinderman were also present.
New Grant Coordinator
Arron Betcher, Gilpin County’s new wildfire mitigation grant coordinator, attended the meeting. Betcher replaces Emmit Hoyl.
Betcher worked for the Forest Service for eight years and also has an engine and aviation background. He said, “I’ve seen fires all over the country – the Midwest, Idaho, the Black Hills.” He currently works as a part-time security guard at Boulder Community Hospital and will spend about 15 hours per week on the grant work here.
Betcher recently moved to our area and lives in Coal Creek Canyon.
January 20 Workshop
At its January workshop, the Board finalized a list of topics to be discussed on March 14-15 at a Board retreat and long-range planning meeting at the Ameristar Casino. Black Hawk Fire Chief Don Taylor will mediate the meeting. Lodging will not be needed at the retreat, but dinner for Board members, TFPD Chief, Black Hawk Chief, and spouses will be paid by TFPD.
The financial statements for January 2015 were reviewed. Total in checking and savings was $482,000. Total expenditures were $98,460; one item questioned was $14,533 for “PPE [personal protective equipment] gear, foam, repairs.” No breakdown was available for that item, but it was assumed that the majority was for foam. The amount on the credit card was $5,800.
The beginning general fund balance was $313,662; ending balance was $220,314, a decrease of $77,462. The beginning capital fund balance was $212,381; ending balance was $198,866, a decrease of $439, attributable to station upgrades. The beginning Boulder Water Fund balance was $8,621; ending balance was $10,841, an increase of $2,500, attributable to water fund donations.
Koepke presented the Chief’s report. TFPD responded to a house fire on Karlann on February 6 that was supported by Central City, Black Hawk, Nederland, and Golden Gate fire departments. The structure was a total loss, but most of the homeowner’s possessions were saved, and Koepke heard good feedback from the homeowner. He added that January was a very busy month, with 45 calls.
A Firefighter 1 class is going well. The assistant chief said that of the 18 people in the class, 11 are from TFPD some are also from Nederland.
TFPD will begin accepting new member applications in March, with an orientation class planned in mid-April.
The hiring committee has narrowed the search for a paid full-time firefighter to about ten candidates. The committee was to meet on February 19 to select up to five to interview on March 2-3.
Bookkeeper Scott Nordgren is retiring effective February 26. Hinderman will take over some of the bookkeeping duties. During its retreat, the Board will continue working on staffing needs.
The Recruitment and Retention committee will plan the volunteer awards picnic, to take place next summer.
The High Country Auxiliary Chili Dinner is March 7 at 5:00 p.m. at the Gilpin Community Center.
The Station 7 remodel is 90 percent complete and should be done by the end of February. The project is within budget.
Crawford talked about several grants, including a FEMA grant that would fund a recruitment and retention program coordinator for four to five years.
DOLA gaming grants are coming up soon. Crawford suggested speaking with the Black Hawk and Central City fire chiefs and asking what things TFPD should have to assist them for mutual aid.
An NCR (North Central Region) grant for SCBAs (breathing apparatus) needs to be submitted by the end of March. This is a $600,000 joint grant between TFPD, Central City, and Black Hawk.
A DFPC (Division of Fire Prevention and Control) grant for bunker gear was submitted at the end of January. Awards are to be announced in March.
Inclusion Season Update
TFPD received two applications by property owners for inclusion into the District, with a public hearing to be held at the Board’s March 16 meeting. Open season ends February 28, so there is time for property owners to be included without paying the $300 application fee.
Meeting with Commissioners
Board members met with the Gilpin County Commissioners on February 10. TFPD informed the Commissioners that it is actively looking for alternatives to its facility in Rollinsville. Regional assets are being housed in that facility, and TFPD is still obligated to house the command vehicle when the new air and light trailer comes in pursuant to a grant.
Crawford said, “The Commissioners are in no hurry to shoo us out,” with Wenzel reminding that TFPD still has ten months left on its lease of the Rollinsville facility.
The Board discussed the need to get moving on hiring a new permanent chief. Crawford noted, “I’m doing 20 hours per week and getting burned out. There are lots of pieces to the District operations overall. At this time of year, a person could put in 15-20 hours a week on grants alone. I don’t see how we’ll manage with a part-time chief.”
Ondr responded, “I don’t see how, with our budget, we’ll manage a full-time chief.” About $36,000 has been budgeted for a chief.
Smith suggested that several of the finalists for the full-time firefighter position might be considered for the chief’s position. Crawford agreed that an ad should be placed for the chief’s job, and the firefighter candidates should be encouraged to put in their applications.
Ondr and Henrikson had met with several property owners in Rollinsville to identify potential properties on which to build a new facility, in lieu of using the present rented facility. This has become a difficult proposition. Some property owners who indicated interest later changed their minds; others proposed a purchase price that seemed too high. Board members also agreed that there is not a lot of buildable property in that area, due to the small size of many of the lots.
One possibility was a fairly level property located about a half mile off of Highway 119, which the owner “might be willing to donate.” The Board decided to talk to that person and see what the costs of donation might be.
Station 1 Building Project
TFPD is considering options for its facility in Pinecliffe. Currently, the building is unusable due to the narrow width of its bay door, which makes it difficult for trucks to be parked without causing damage. There are also problems with the instability of a nearby rock wall.
Board members said a rough cost estimate to remodel the building is $50,000 to $55,000.
Crawford wondered whether the building should be left as is, with the addition of a fourth bay.
Another option is to try to obtain an adjacent corner property from the homeowner, who has expressed interest in selling. Board members discussed potential costs of purchasing the land, getting a survey, and expenses of erecting a new building.
Crawford noted a $200,000 reserve in the capital fund, plus a TABOR reserve, for a revenue in the fund of roughly $215,000. With TFPD’s truck payment for the year, that will leave $45,000.
Crawford noted wryly that the Boulder County Assessor lists Station 1’s actual value at $2,000 for the land and zero value for the building.
Koepke commented, “Now is a good time to find out what it would take. We’ve been talking about it for the last 20 years.” He reminded the others of the facility’s location in the middle of the property owner’s land. “If the property is sold and an owner builds on either side, Timberline won’t have room to even park.”
After lengthy discussion, it was proposed that ads be put out for bidders on a remodel project, and a few contractors would also be contacted individually. Board members chose a one-month time frame to receive bids. The property owners will also be approached again. The options will be compared when information is received.
The Board accepted an offer of $17,500 from the Sheraton Volunteer Fire Department (Virginia) for its Pierce truck. The Sheraton department was to send the payment last week, and TFPD will ship the truck and any equipment it is willing to include.
The Board accepted a bid for $14,600 for 15 sets of bunker gear. $45,000 is budgeted, and Crawford urged that a purchase order wait for next month’s announcement of the DFPC grant awards, which are already intended to go for bunker gear. Crawford expressed optimism about receiving the grant, and said that more than 15 sets of gear may be able to be purchased. The Board approved a purchase by March 31.
Drafts of two intergovernmental agreements (IGA) were presented for the Board’s review. The first IGA was between the City of Black Hawk, the City of Central, and TFPD regarding mutual use of an air and light trailer, obtained with grant funding. The second IGA was between the City of Black Hawk and TFPD regarding providing fire code inspections. No action was taken at the Board meeting, pending comment by TFPD’s attorney and review by Black Hawk and Central City. When these entities have approved the IGA’s, they will go to the respective city councils.
The Board also considered a proposal from Joseph and Pamela Ignat, 850 East Westglow Lane, Greenwood Village, Colorado, regarding a lien placed on 693 Bear Mountain Road as compensation for fire services provided several years ago by then Colorado Sierra Fire. Insurance refused to pay a claim, and the Ignats proposed settling the claim with TFPD with immediate payment of $6,000.
Wildland deployments and a SCBA compressor were also discussed.
The next meeting will be held on March 16, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. at Station 3, 660 Highway 46.