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Wildfires are the biggest threat to our community

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But fire protection is the only one provided by volunteers

By Randy Beaudette

Timberline Board of Directors called to order their regularly scheduled meeting October 12, 2016 promptly at 7:20 pm. at Timberline Station 7, 14908 Colorado Highway 119. The meeting was attended by Board President Charles (Chip) Smith, Vice-President Chris Samuelson, Secretary Cheryl Taylor, Treasurer Paul Ondr via telecom, while Member-at-Large Rik Henrikson was absent. Also in attendance were Chief Glenn Levy and Administrator Jennifer Hinderman.

President Smith led the Pledge of Allegiance and then a moment of silence for four fallen police officers, two in Palm Springs, California, one in St. Louis, Missouri, one in L.A. County California, and one fallen firefighter in Las Vegas. Smith continued,” October is fire prevention month as well as the National Fallen Firefighter’s memorial service last weekend.”

Approval of Minutes

Timberline Fire Board approved the minutes from the September 13, 2016 Regular Board meeting with grammatical corrections to the 207 Pioneer Road inclusion.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Paul Ondr presented the September 2016 report noting that there are no items that really stood out. “Pretty much business as usual, other than the additional $107 for insurance for the donated Ford Ranger,  couple of repair items, and the purchase of some low angle rescue gear.”

Ending balances for the month of September: General Fund $826,360, Capital Fund $217,949, and Boulder water Fund $19,332. As always the draft copy of the monthly financial report can be found on the web at http://www.timberlinefire.com/SiteAssets/board-of-directors/Financials%20Sept%202016.pdf

Chiefs Report – VFA Grant Request

Annually, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control opens up grants for volunteer fire departments that meet specific guidelines. The purpose of the Volunteer Fire Assistance Program is to provide Federal financial, technical and other assistance to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to prevent and suppress fires. A single fire department serving a rural area or a rural community with a population of 10,000 or less is eligible for VFA funding. Grants can be for up to $5,000 with the applying agency providing a matching amount. Chief Levy asked the Board to approve a $5,000 match, with a total VFA request being $10,000. Timberline BOD approved the $5,000 match to be taken from the General fund.

Fire Protection in “No Man’s Land”

As it has been known for many years that there are approximately 3,500 properties in Gilpin County that are not in any fire district, there has never been a compelling reason to address the issue…until now.

In Timberline’s district alone, there are about 500 properties that are technically not in the district, but receive the same excellent services as those who pay to be in the district. As the Board may be aware, when Timberline was formed, there was not a redistricting, but rather two existing districts simply merging. This left quite a few properties within the geographical Timberline district to not be included and not formally in any established fire district. Timberline has been providing services to these properties without charge.

In addition, there is a huge area commonly known as “No Man’s Land” (NML) that also has no established fire district. Central City Fire Department has been honorably serving NML for many years and has done a great job. There are approximately 3,000 properties in the area. Even though Central City has been providing service to the area for many years, it is technically not in any fire district. That entire area has an ISO rating of 10, considered to have no fire protection. An ISO rating of 10 generally has the highest insurance cost.

Because of the large losses from wildfire to insurance companies in Colorado, they are reviewing the properties they insure and are requiring mitigation, structural changes, and in many cases dropping property owners completely. Chief Levy states, “I don’t need to tell you the stress that comes with that notification. Insurance companies are trying to reduce their risk and eliminating certain properties or the total number of moderate to high risk properties. This is not a new concept as they have also done it in areas that are prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other high risk incident types.”

A secondary issue is one of fairness. There are several hundred properties in Gilpin County that are receiving excellent volunteer emergency services and not contributing any funds to ensure stability or sustainability of those services. It’s not fair to the volunteer firefighters, it’s not fair to those who are paying for those services, and not fair to our response partners who are supporting responses into our area.

Wildfire and natural disasters are the single biggest overall threat to our community. It’s interesting that of all of the services provided by a local government, fire protection is the only one provided by volunteers. While other basic services are provided by full-time paid staff, the community is relying on Timberline volunteers to provide life and property saving services. Levy said, “I am proud of the job that your Timberline firefighters provide, but to operate a professional volunteer emergency services agency requires a great deal of resources. We are the cheapest insurance we hope you never have to use.”

At the request of the Gilpin County Commissioners, Chief Levy has been asked if Timberline would be interested in including NML into the district. This would require that Gilpin County hold an election for those impacted and the inclusion question must successfully pass. There is no question that it is in the best interest of those in NML to formally be part of an established fire district. Fire is the single largest risk that could impact our area and consolidated efforts would have a significant impact on not only the cost to the property owners, but also our ability to minimize the impact of any incident.

However, this is a decision that clearly lies with the property owners in the NML or those who are not currently in a fire district. Levy wants to make it clear to the Board that Timberline is not initiating these actions, but merely following up on a request by the County Commissioners.

As the Board is aware, Chief levy has been working on both estimated costs as well as the many logistical issues that would come with such an inclusion. He believes that Timberline is uniquely qualified and prepared to provide the same excellent services that they are currently providing to the district, should the voters support an inclusion.

This is an important issue because Timberline will be asking property owners who are not in any fire district, what level of fire protection they desire. Chief Levy states, “I am hopeful that by answering their questions, providing them information on the services we provide, and demonstrate the importance and benefits of an integrated fire protection district, they will be able to make the best decision for them and their property.”

Currently the workshop between the Gilpin County Commissioners and Timberline Fire has not been scheduled. It will most likely take place after the November 8th election.

Call Volume

Chief Levy reported that in September, Timberline responded to 72 calls including one structural fire. That’s about two calls per day. Year-to-date total is 570 calls, a new record.

Personnel

The 10 new recruits are, “Rockin’ it” according to Levy. They’ve been successfully going through the new recruit training and should be ready to respond soon. Timberline reduced its’ ranks by two in September, (1) from Station 1 and (1) from Station 6.

Apparatus and Equipment

All apparatus and equipment are running normally. The staff has performed maintenance and minor repairs during the month, but everything is on track.

Facilities

Chief Levy has begun organizing and prioritizing projects and contacting contractors to submit bids on various projects.

Personnel Manual and Hiring Process

President Chip Smith handed the current Personnel Manual to the remaining Board of directors that were absent last month, to review and update said manual. The current revision is over two years old and President Smith was open to accepting inputs that will update the manual to reflect the current environment at Timberline Fire.

President Smith presented a rough draft of the TFPD hiring process, if need be. The outline included; Job description, Selection Committee, and a timeline for the whole process to evolve. Smith said, “This is a rough draft and it will certainly take some additional corrections. I hope we develop this process and it rots in a drawer some place.” Referring to, he hopes that Timberline will not have to look for a Chief for at least 10 years.

2017 Budget

A proposed budget has been submitted to the Timberline Fire Protection District Board of Directors for the ensuing year of 2017. A copy of such proposed budget has been filed in the office of Timberline Fire Protection District, where the same is open for public inspection; such proposed budget will be considered at a public hearing prior to the regular meeting of the Timberline Fire Protection District Board of Directors to be held at 660 Highway 46, Black Hawk on December 12, 2016 at 7 p.m. Any interested elector of the Timberline Fire Protection District may inspect the proposed budget at 660 Highway 46, Black Hawk by appointment (call 303-582- 5768) and file or register any objections thereto at any time prior to the final adoption of the budget. The budget can also be inspected at: http://www.timberlinefire.com/SiteAssets/board-of-directors/Draft%202017%20Budget%20101216.pdf

Copier Contract

Administrator Jennifer Hinderman presented a proposal for a new copier lease from Lewan Technology, in Denver. The previous lease is expiring soon. The least agreement will include delivery, set-up, and service. Timberline Board reviewed the proposal and agreed that the old copy machine needs to be replaced.

Banking and Credit Cards

Currently Timberline Fire has utilized Wells Fargo for all the bank and credit card accounts. Recently, a new representative was assigned to Timberline and a proposal was submitted to transfer all the accounts from a Business Account to a newly offered Small Government Entity account. According to Hinderman, this will save a lot of money through the elimination of business fees. Timberline Fire accepted the proposal and authorized Hinderman to continue with the transfer process.

Public Comment

Lt. John Carder wanted to understand the difference between the County funded Gilpin Ambulance and the temporary payment to fulfill Timberline’s take on “No Man’s Land.” Chief Levy responded, ”Timberline doesn’t know what temporary is until it is discussed with the Commissioners, what they’ll get and how long it will take and so on.” Levy continued, “The difference will be the big one-time costs verses the cost to maintain.” Carder concluded, “We believes that No Man’s land will produce higher costs per revenue than any other portion of our district.” Levy confirmed, “That’s why Gilpin County needs to subsidize this effort.”

Firefighter Andy Gilman asked about the personnel manuals, what do they contain and does that apply to paid personnel. President Smith explained that the personnel manuals were developed during the merger and was update once since then. The board needs to review and update the manuals. The Standard Operating Practice (SOP’s) and Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG’s) pertain to all paid and volunteer personnel that are in Timberline FPD.

Next Meeting

The next Timberline Board of Directors meeting is November 16, 2016 at 7 p.m. at Station 7, 14908 Highway 119.

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