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Narrow-band radio use for EFR to go live this week

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By Sandy Barnes

After extended efforts to get the system up and running, Evergreen Fire/Rescue is planning to make the switch from wide- to narrow-band radio this week.

“We’re doing test drives now,” Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege said at the Sept. 17 fire district board meeting. “Everything’s set up and ready to go."

 “In a worst-case scenario, we would have to cut back to UHF," Weege added.

For the Evergreen fire district, the goal of the radio conversion from UHF to VHF is aligning its frequency with other area emergency services. Indian Hills Fire Rescue has already gone live with its new frequencies, Weege said.

The $1.35 million project is a federally mandated initiative that is largely funded through grants from FCC Public Safety and the Homeland Security Bureau. Total cost to the fire district is projected at $420,000, Weege said.

There had been a concern about completing the radio project before the spring deadline for grant funds. However, the fire district was able to get an extension, Weege said.

The fire board approved an additional $45,000 expenditure last week to complete the project, which has increased in cost since its inception last year.

“Is this the last of it?” board member Charlie Simons asked about the extra funds.

“It’s close,” replied Weege.

To assist with the process, the fire district hired Pericle Communications of Colorado Springs. 

"They basically designed the system,” said Weege.

A previous contractor the fire district had been working with was unable to locate frequencies for the department, he said.

While testing equipment on Bear Mountain, there has been some interference with Xcel Energy, Weege said.

“We knew there were going to be issues,” Weege remarked.

“I would see these issues as pretty normal,” said fire board member George Kling.

Chris Johnson, chief of fire operations for the Evergreen department and former IT coordinator for the district, has played a key role as the point person for the transition.

Concern about Outdoor Lab students

During the meeting, fire board members also discussed the plight of students at the Mount Evans Outdoor Laboratory School during the recent flooding. 

Nearly 100 students hiked 2 miles from the Outdoor School to Old Squaw Pass Road on Sept. 13 to escape the flooding waters of Bear Creek.

Buses were waiting to transport the students from the area, with Clear Creek sheriff’s deputies using ATV’s to shuttle those who were having difficulty.

“My question is why we put these kids in danger,” said board member Valeri Leswing.

“They walk 2 to 3 miles a day,” said board member Jeff DeDisse. “The walk was 45 minutes to Highway 103.”

“What we need to do is a better job of communicating with parents,” said Leswing.

Fire safety day this Sunday

Evergreen Fire/Rescue is planning this year’s Safety Day on Sunday in conjunction with the Evergreen Fall Carnival at Bergen Meadow Elementary School beside the fire station on Bergen Parkway.

The event at Fire Station 2 will feature tours of the recently completed fire training facility, which has live burn capabilities.

The fire department event also features a bike rodeo with helmet and bicycle giveaways, along with a kiddie train and fire truck rides. A Flight for Life helicopter will land at approximately 11 a.m.

The carnival and Safety Day take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.