Evergreen firefighters begin training at new facility in Bergen Park

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By Sandy Barnes

“Yesterday we actually christened the training building,” said volunteer firefighter Matt Swinden during the Evergreen Fire Protection District meeting on July 16.

“We had one of the best training sessions we’ve had in years,” Swinden added. “On behalf of the firefighters that participated last night, we want to thank you.”

The fire training facility at Evergreen Fire Station 2 on South Bergen Parkway, which caused so much controversy that it led to a recall election earlier this year, is a prefabricated three-story building with live burn capability. Construction on the $500,000 facility began earlier this year.

“A few items that are still open on the punch list I will work through with the contractor, but the building is ready for use,” said Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege. 

“We’re having the roof painted. … The final pouring of concrete will be next week,” he said. The board approved spending $6,626 for a concrete deck that is part of the project.

Some residents have complained about the shiny roof, which they say causes glare when they drive by the facility. However, Weege said the roof will be painted a dark color with paint that will provide a non-slippery surface for safety during training sessions.

While discussing fire danger in the district, Weege said that Doug Saba, the department’s fire and life safety educator, has placed signs with information about evacuation routes near neighborhoods where fire risk is high. 

Saba has placed fliers with evacuation routes in the signs, which he said he has to keep replenishing by the hundreds in the Floyd Hill area. The signs are in five locations in the district: on Brook Forest Road near Fire Station 8; on Brook Forest Drive; at the intersection of Floyd Hill and I-70; next to Evergreen High School on Buffalo Park Road; and at the entrance to the Springdale subdivision.

Detailed information about evacuation routes in high-risk areas of the district is also on the EFR website at www.evergreenfirerescue.com.


Recall election costs

The fire training facility was a catalyst for the recall election of four EFPD board members in April, an election for which the district had to pay. 

Weege previously reported that the recall election cost the district approximately $133,000, not including staff time. At the July 16 meeting, he said the estimated cost of EFR staff time was $14,700 from the time the election was finalized to its completion.

Residents opposed to building the facility at Fire Station 2 initiated the recall of board President George Kling and members David Christensen, Jeff deDisse and Charlie Simons. 

Member Charles Dykeman, who originally was part of the recall, moved from the area. He was replaced on the board by Valerie Leswing, who was not eligible for recall at the time.

The four board members retained their positions and are entitled to reimbursement for the cost of their campaigns.

During the meeting, members approved reimbursing Simons $1,100 and Christensen $500. At the June meeting, the board authorized reimbursing Kling $2,500. DeDisse did not submit a reimbursement request.

Last month, Leswing abstained from voting on the campaign reimbursement for Kling because of her concerns about it, but at the July meeting, Leswing voted for the reimbursements for Christensen and Simons.


Firefighter recruitment

The Evergreen Fire Department has received more than 20 firefighter applications during its recruitment effort, Weege said. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 21, he said.  In recent months, the number of volunteer firefighters has dwindled from more than 90 to 78.

Weege also said that this past month has been busy with active lightning storms, one of which triggered a structure fire. The department also deployed crews to the Black Forest, Lime Gulch and West Fork fires, he said.

“We’re very careful about how many people we send down,” Weege said about mutual aid support.

Board members expressed condolences for the recent deaths of 19 firefighters working at a large wildland fire in Arizona.

“I just hope all the training we do doesn’t lead down that path,” said deDisse.

“We’re the citizens’ check and balance,” said Kling. “Everyone understands the threat (of fire), but no one expects you to die for them,” he said about firefighters.

“Trees re-grow, and houses can be rebuilt,” said Leswing. “Be safe.”


Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.