Fire board seeking applications

With the May election just three months away, the Craig Rural Fire Protection District is accepting applications for four open seats on the five-member fire board.

Because of staggered terms, the public typically would vote for three positions in May, but the resignation of firefighter Byron Willems left an unusual vacancy. Willems resigned last year after the board discovered that district by-laws don't allow active firefighters to sit on the board.

The board makes funding and policy decisions for Craig Fire/Rescue.

Alan Webber was appointed by the board as Willems' replacement, but he will have to elected by the voters to serve a full term, department secretary Vicky Slaight said.

Board members serve four-year terms, and there are no term limits.

Board members have to have lived within the fire protection district for 30 days and must be registered voters.

Nominations must be delivered in person to the fire station, 419 Yampa Ave., by Feb. 24.

Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Chris Nichols said the fire department needs board members who can tackle important issues such as a capital replacement plan, department funding and staffing issues.

The department receives about $430,000 a year from its mill levy. The district asked voters for a 1-mill increase in the last two April elections, but the proposals were rejected by voters both times.

"The issue of funding has never gone away," Nichols said.

Future fire boards will have to deal with finding funding for vehicles to replace the department's aging fleet, Nichols said.

The fire board also will have to address staffing issues within the department, Nichols said.

Firefighters are paid by the call, but Nichols said down the road, the department may need to hire full-time firefighters.

Nichols said he hopes board members have experience working with budgets and long-term planning.

The fire board meets the third Thursday of each month.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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