As a member of the Evergreen Fire Protection District board, Charles Simons said he is dedicated to serving the overall community.
“We have a commitment to the to the entire 125-square-mile district,” he said.
A former commercial airline pilot with an extensive background in safety training, Simons said he believes that the fire training facility at Fire Station 2 will help people in the district.
“This building will improve the situation,” he said.
Instead of conducting training that involves burning outdoors, as they have done in the past, firefighters will be able to do live burning inside an enclosed building, said Simons.
“I firmly believe the neighbors will be better off,” he said. “And training will be vastly improved.”
On the other hand, not being able to do live burn training at the Bergen Park station would vastly increase the number of times that volunteer firefighters will have to be sent down the hill, said Simons.
Without a local training facility in which firefighters can do live burn training, the district may have to convert to a paid fire department, he remarked.
“If that happens, response times, service will go down,” said Simons.
Also, the cost of replacing 90 volunteer firefighters with paid staff would also be financially prohibitive, he said.
While discussing the upcoming recall election, which was triggered by controversy over the training facility plan, Simons said that he and other members of the fire district board have tried to address the concerns of opponents.
“We’ve done anything we can to mitigate it,” he said.
Since the recall campaign began, Simons said, he and other board members are responding to additional criticism from the opposition.
“We’re trying to answer, as best we can, the charges leveled against us,” he said.
The recall committee has brought up concerns about response times and the firefighters’ pension fund, along with other issues.
If he retains his position on the fire district board after the April 23 recall election, Simons said he will work to improve the volunteer pension fund and find ways to get more water to fires in the district where there is no water supply.
Regarding the training facility, Simons said he would honor his pledge to seek another location.
“We will work with the community to come up with a different place,” he said. “If we can find another place to move, I have no objections.
“The reason that I made the motion to move forward was that the building needed to be built,” he added.
Simons is Texas native who served in Vietnam as a Navy pilot after graduating from college.
He worked for Delta Airlines for most of his career as a pilot, instructor and examiner. Simons now conducts operational safety audits for airlines worldwide through his consulting company.
Simons previously has served as president of the board for the Evergreen Metropolitan District and as mayor pro tem for Westlake Hills near Austin, Texas.
Contact Sandy Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-350-1042.