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Opponents of fire training facility turn up heat

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Mailing urges residents to e-mail their concerns

By Sandy Barnes

An undisclosed number of Evergreen residents have received a flier in the mail asking concerned citizens to voice objections to the fire training facility planned at Fire Station 2 in Bergen Park.

The anonymously produced publication states that training at the facility will create smoke byproducts with a “long hang time” and remaining contaminants. It also objects to the facility being placed next to an elementary school and Buchanan Recreation Center. 

Dr. Valerie Leswing of Mountain Pediatrics is quoted on the flier as saying, “I am very concerned about the negative effects it will have on asthmatic children.”

“Email concerns now to:  HYPERLINK "mailto:Burnbuilding@gmail.com" Burnbuilding@gmail.com” and “Learn more at: BergenBurnHouse.com” the flier suggests under the heading. 

Evergreen resident Greg Meyerhoff, who is among those opposed to the project, said that the website has received more than 300 anonymous e-mails expressing opposition to the fire training facility and its location.

“There is a fear of speaking up against the fire department, so they want e-mails to be anonymous,” said Meyerhoff.

The Bergen Burn House website did receive a threatening e-mail, which ended with the statement: “I hope you die.” A Jeffco sheriff’s deputy who investigated the incident said the e-mail was an inappropriate use of the Internet but did not constitute a crime.

Questions about theatrical smoke

The recent mailing focuses on possible hazards created by smoke produced during firefighter training. This is an issue that Evergreen resident Paul Peil has been researching as a member of the fire training facility committee, which has been studying the matter and offering suggestions.

Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege said that theatrical smoke used during training sessions is a smoke liquid called Froggy’s Fog, which is produced in Tennessee. 

Froggy’s Fog owner Adam Pogue said the fog smoke fluid sold for firefighter training is “a blend of poly-functional alcohols in de-ionized water.” Pogue would not comment on the exact chemical components of the product because he said it is a proprietary mixture that he would not want competitors to copy.

According to the material safety data sheet for Froggy’s Fog, contact with the liquid might cause eye and skin and respiratory tract irritation. “This product is not known to be a hazardous chemical as defined by OSHA,” the data sheet states.

However, Peil thinks the product may be hazardous when combined with fire, and has found research about the use of propylene glycol, which is believed to be a component of Froggy’s Fog. 

Among documents in Peil’s possession is one titled “Health Evaluation of Theatrical Smoke Product used by EFPD” authored by Bob Benson, human health toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver. This document states that its chemical components have low toxicity.

Another research document from the Naval Research Laboratory suggests that toxic components may be created when propylene glycol is combined with heat. The fire department is planning to use excelsior made of aspen shavings as an accelerant in training. 

Peil is concerned about a potentially hazardous byproduct that could be generated when theatrical smoke is combined with burning excelsior.

“The reality is, nobody knows what the byproduct is,” Weege said while discussing the issue.

The fire department has contracted with a chemical and industrial hygiene specialist to do an analysis of the byproduct, Weege said.

Peil also has raised questions about the smoke machines that the fire department is using, which he said need calibration. 

Weege said that while machines currently used do require calibration, those in the proposed training facility will not.

“The building comes with a new smoke-generating device that is self-calibrating,” Weege said.

The question of whether to move forward with the controversial fire training facility may have been decided at the Sept. 11 Evergreen Fire Protection District board meeting, which took place after the Canyon Courier’s press time.

One Evergreen resident who initially opposed the fire training facility has since decided it is a necessary project for the fire district.

“I still wish that (firefighter) training down the hill were a good option, but it’s not,” said David Temple. 

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