Twin Lakes: Safety First, An EMS Update
Believe it or not, in one week the calendar will turn a page and August will be squarely in focus. So before summer slips away any faster, it’s time to check in with the southern portal of Lake County: Twin Lakes!
Have you been down to Twin Lakes yet this summer? Have you dropped a fishing line in at Forebay, or maybe checked in on the Osprey nest? It’s time to take your canoe out on the water or maybe book a cruise over to Interlaken by the Twin Lakes Boat Tour. Have you taken in a delicious dinner at the Twin Lakes Inn or maybe grabbed lunch at Punky’s before heading over Independence Pass? And what’s the word on the curb about the Twin Lakes General Store being sold and another store opening its doors?!
It’s time for some news about what’s happening down in the village! It’s summertime and Twin Lakes is open for business!
The Leadville Today Twin Lakes update series kicks off with #safetyfirst. As the area’s population continues to grow, and more and more homeowners claim Twin Lakes as their primary residence, efforts have been focused on making sure that this southern portal into Lake County has what it needs in the way of emergency response support. To that end, the following information was distributed by the Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM). Catch up on what life safety measures are already in place and what’s on the planning boards as Twin Lakes heads into its busiest month of the year: August!
The Southern Fire Station Progress Report
By Betty Benson, LCOEM Public Information Officer
The Leadville/Lake County Fire Chief, members of Friends of Twin Lakes, the Fire Planning Board and Lake County Commissioners have been working for months on grants to assist with building a fire station in the South end of the County. There are substantial dollars already committed to this project, and one of these grants is the EIAF grant, offered by DOLA, and to be presented on July 17. This grant, if awarded in August, would provide $655,000 that would be used for the following:
There are many benefits of having a Southern Station, and the most important is increased fire protection service to the whole of Lake County. The ability to enhance service and take advantage of the training opportunities we have here will benefit our whole program. Following are some of those benefits:
- If Engine 1 responds to a call at the north end of the county, personnel from the southern station will cover the district for any additional calls. In 2017 there were 17 back to back calls, or double calls at the same time. This requires additional response from both the ambulance and fire. Currently we rely on mutual aid to cover this circumstance.
- We will rely on mutual aid from our neighbors less, with increased local capabilities. During any major incident we will have greater and safer capabilities for the public, for quicker response as waiting for mutual aid is at least 45 minutes in good weather for our neighbors to come and help.
- This station will greatly assist the residency program that has been funded by a SAFER grant. This grant will expire in 2021. Having this program has provided firefighters in training, providing additional resources for most shifts and in an emergency at a very small cost. This station will provide more living accommodations for these firemen in training.
- Having more living accommodations also assists the annual Fire Academy. Students attend the CMC Fire Academy and have a place to not only get on-the-job training, have a place to stay, and become part of the residency program often providing trained firefighters who can be hired when their training is complete.
- The southern end of the county is growing, and
- There is already a large population of Lake County residents located in Twin Lakes, Pan Ark, Mt. Massive Estate and Beaver Lake Estates who would receive faster service from this station.
- This station will be sized for multi-use that can help responding agencies as well as Road and Bridge providing by work space and covered storage for vehicles not used on a daily basis.
Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue (LLCFR) would like to thank all of the Fire Planning Board members’ efforts on this project, and those of Friends of Twin Lakes for your continuous outstanding efforts. Those members will be named officially at a later date. We would like to thank Alan Elias for his contribution, and his continued support for life safety in southern Lake County. We would also like to thank Climax Mine for their generous donation through the community investment fund grant. LLCFR appreciates the commitment towards a long-term investment for infrastructure for Lake County. We also thank the City and County Governments for their continuous support on this project. This combined effort just shows how much they care about life safety, and property for the general public, and for those that visit.
- We need to be creative to continue the residency program after SAFER funds run out in 2021. With this program, LLCFR has been able to support a 4th and 5th position on the engine for response. In some cases, additional apparatus will respond to secondary calls, with trained resident/reserve firefighters. The SAFER grant pays for education up to an associates’ degree in fire science technology, technical training such as rope rescue, swift water, ice rescue, auto extrication courses etc… It also pays for the resident/reserve to become an emergency medical technician to assist during medical emergencies. A resident of the current program is offered free housing, a meal stipend, and a stipend when they work each shift. The resident is required to sign up for a minimum of 5/24hr shifts a month in exchange for these benefits. Station 2 will allow us to continue the housing incentive for many years to come, and the other incentives will be provided as the budget allows for retention purposes.
- Each year since 2003, CMC Timberline Campus has instructed fire academy courses, and worked with Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue for the success of that program. By working together, we have been able to retain some of the students right out of academy. They are placed in an “On-the-job Training” environment. With further incentives like housing, stipends and experience LLCFR is able to retain these personnel for a couple of years. Some are hired as career personnel and stay for a longer period of time. We essentially take someone with no experience and train them to be professional, all-hazard, trained firefighters.
Multi Use; The facility is being built for the following agencies to utilize;
- County Road and Bridge will have bay space for a road grader, or other equipment as necessary. Currently their equipment sits outside during the winter for southern lake county use.
- Saint Vincent Hospital will have an ambulance located there for greater response capabilities in the south, and for the core area for secondary calls.
- The Sheriff’s department will have a sub-station, and office space available.
- Colorado Highway Patrol will have office space as needed.
- All emergency services will have access to the emergency services gym to stay healthy and fit for duty. Most emergency responder jobs require a high-level of fitness to perform the job requirements.
- Search and Rescue will have bay space for equipment so that it doesn’t sit outside. They will also be able to utilize the space as a command center during mountain rescues.
- Office of Emergency Management will have a secondary EOC until it becomes the primary EOC if it is needed.
- The State, and Federal Forest Services can use the space for a camp site, or Command site during any wildland fire.
- Eventually we could have an agreement with Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (State) to position a Type III engine, with their staff in Lake County at this station for response during high peak fire seasons.
- The tower will provide antennas for greater VHF/DTR radio communications, and greater internet services along the 24 corridor and for all of southern Lake County.
- The public area will be a place for HOA meetings and other public meetings as necessary, or desired.
- Two (2) out of the nine (9) rooms can be kept available for housing new-hire employees of emergency services until they are able to find housing.
- One room can be available for instructors from outside agencies that come to Lake County to provide instruction to emergency responding agencies.
- When the primary engine is on the north side of the district, an engine from this station will bump up into the core area to take care of calls.
- When there are secondary alarms (back to back) in the district, there will be response capabilities to cover those calls.
- LLCFR will rely less on mutual aid from neighboring districts due to the capabilities of response. Instead of waiting 45 minutes on other agencies, we will have secondary equipment and personnel in jurisdiction for that.
- The housing incentive is a creative way to keep the residency program alive in Lake County once the $737K SAFER grant runs out in 2121 to support staffing currently. The fire department, has a staffing shortage, and this is a way to keep additional staffing levels non-paid for a period of time that growth will allow. Eagle River Fire Protection District, Vail Fire, and Lake Dillon Fire Protection District went away from their residency program, because they have the tax base to support hiring a fourth firefighter on each piece of equipment. This in turn, gave us great opportunity for staffing LLCFR with a residency program. All other incentives that are currently supported by the grant will be an option as we move forward past 2121.
Current Funding for this $1,310,000 project.
- Friends of Twin: $29,075.00
- Alan Elias: $20,000.00 (Angelview at Twin Lakes Investor)
- Climax Mine: $50,000.00 (Community Investment Fund Grant)
- City of Leadville: $30,000.00 (General Fund)
- Lake County Government: $70,000.00 (General Fund)
- Fire Fund Balance: $80,000.00 (Contract funds from wildland fire deployments, & aircraft standby)
- Possible DOLA award in August: $655, 086.00