You may have heard the recent news reports on budget cuts at the West Metro Fire Rescue, which serves our community. Mark Krapf, a local resident and former member of the Roxborough Volunteer Fire Department, provided some great information to One Roxborough on how these budget cuts may affect Roxborough. Here’s what he had to say:
Letter from Mark Krapf:
My family and I have been residents of Roxborough for more than 15 years. My roots run deep as I was also a member of the Roxborough Volunteer Fire Department prior to the inclusion into West Metro Fire. In fact, I was the very first West Metro Fire Captain at Station 15 and was assigned with implementing the transition of fire and medical response to West Metro. Back then we had only three personnel assigned to the station, staffing only the fire engine and relying on volunteer personnel to respond on the ambulance. I too share your concerns about the potential new service delivery model and how it impact our community.
I am currently the Deputy Chief of Administration for the West Metro Fire Rescue. Some of the information that is being given to our community is not consistent with the proposed changes by WMFR staff. While it is proposed that staffing on a daily basis will be reduced from five personnel to four personnel at Station 15, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) will not go away. The engine will continue to have Advanced Life Support (ALS) personnel and equipment and the fully equipped ALS Medic 15 unit (ambulance) will be cross-staffed with personnel from the engine. What this means is when we respond to a medical call, we will respond with two personnel on the engine and two personnel on the ambulance. Medic 15 will be available to transport, just as it is today. Our plan is to also dispatch another medic unit into Roxborough along with the normal Station 15 response. This medic unit will remain in Roxborough area until Medic 15 returns to Station 15. Today, Medic 15 is often utilized to assist other areas of our District when they are short of Medic units leaving three personnel at the station. It is unlikely that this will continue as we understand the isolation of Roxborough and the desire to maintain the medic unit there. We will also continue to cross-staff a wildland brush truck as it is today.
Concerning the closing of Engine 14, you are correct this will also have an impact on the service levels of the District overall. Tower 14 will remain in service with a crew of four personnel at Station 14 near Kipling and Chatfield. Tower 14 has engine capabilities (ability to pump water, hoses, water tank, etc.) and will carry out engine responsibilities as well as its current responsibilities. Specifically to the Roxborough community, we also have an auto-aid agreement with South Metro Fire and their Engine 40 and other resources near Titan Road and Santa Fe is the next engine into our community. That agreement has been in place for several years and has proven to be very successful.
Response times may be affected in ALL areas of the West Metro District with fewer resources. We still have much work to do to ensure we account for the deficiencies. The Fire Chief and his staff have received input from the organization on how best to address our declining revenues and budget shortfalls. You can be certain service cuts in all areas were evaluated.
This is still in the proposal stage and much more work needs to be done concerning response plans, standard operating procedures, job functions, etc. As this is formulated, we will keep the public informed and I envision community meetings taking place as to the progress of the changes.
In response to district promises to fully staff an ambulance in Roxborough, I am not aware of any such promise. With that said, I do not believe that our proposal to cross staff the ambulance and providing immediate secondary response will place Roxborough at a disadvantage compared to other communities in our District. We have very highly trained and motivated fire personnel stationed in Roxborough. They feel that they are a part of our community and I feel the same.
If you have additional concerns or questions, there is a public meeting today, September 16th from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the West Metro Administration Building, 433 S. Allison Parkway in Lakewood.