Residents share feedback with Craig fire board on proposed training center

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A proposed training facility was a primary topic Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board. Since discussing construction of a new training tower and fire simulator on property near The Memorial Hospital and Colorado Northwestern Community College at its March meeting, the board offered residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the plan. After a video and PowerPoint presentation by board president Byron Willems about the benefits of having such a structure in the area and the breakdown of safety measures involved, the floor opened to public comment. The first to speak was Craig resident Bruce Timberg, who accused board members of “lies and deceit” regarding the training facility. Timberg said he was not arguing for or against the idea of a training location, but he questioned the history of the funding for the estimated $1.5 million project. Specifically, he believes funds received from a 2006 mill levy approved by local voters are being misappropriated to build a structure similar to the one rejected by voters in 2002. Willems quoted the 2006 ballot, pointing out that money from the mill levy was to be used for, among other things, “operating expenses.” Timberg said he did not believe a training facility fell in this category. “I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree,” Willems said. Resident Susan Chenoweth spoke next in support of the training tower plan, stating how it would be an asset to the area. “This mill levy changed my taxes less than $40 a year,” she said. “For $40 a year, I think that’s pretty damn good insurance. If my house catches on fire, I want the best-trained person to come out there and put it out. I want that person to be safe and to be able to go home to his wife and kids.” Chenoweth also motioned to members of the Craig Fire/Rescue team in the audience and thanked them for volunteering. “I know how many Christmases have been spent away from your families putting out somebody else’s fire,” she said. Other supporters of the project included Jayne Morley, of Craig, and Jimmy Rossi, of Hayden. Besides the funding, other aspects of the building were brought up by community members, such as the safety of the location with other buildings in the vicinity. The topics of acceptable burning materials and ventilation, part of Willems’ initial presentation, were reintroduced by Jennifer Riley, who stated she was at the meeting as a Craig resident and not a representative of The Memorial Hospital, where she's chief of organizational excellence. The hospital board recently supported the facility by unanimous vote, under the condition the fire board handle any potential costs caused by smoke from the fire simulator. “When I first saw that presentation a month ago, one thing that helped me was you mentioned you’re not going to be burning something every day, you won’t be out there every day,” Riley said. Resident Pam Foster mentioned the possibility of bricking the building to better ensure any simulated fires don’t break loose and spread to the surrounding area, also introduced in Willems’ slideshow. Foster’s main question, however, was the necessity of creating a new facility when one exists near Hayden and has been used by the department in the past. Battalion Chief Dennis Jones explained the difficulties of transporting a large number of firefighters out of town, as well as all the equipment needed for proper training sessions. “We’re 25 minutes away, at best, with all the hoses laid out, and you can’t just drop all your equipment to drive back to Craig,” Jones said. “When you look at the logistics, it doesn’t make sense to go to Hayden. The facilities we’re talking about here tonight offer us so much more than just a front.” Jones said the amount of regular training already performed by the department each month, as well as additional quarterly sessions, would only benefit from the facility. Foster said the board has been sending “mixed messages” about the need for the new building and needed to better inform the public about their reasons, so as not to come off as “belligerent.” “Nobody has ever really come out and said, ‘We do this much a week or this much a month,’” she said. Secretary/Treasurer Chris Nichols said the board has attempted to operate with total “transparency” to assuage any public misgivings. Likewise, Willems said the board has recently worked on improving public relations with a greater online presence, among other efforts. He added that the turnout for the meeting — about 40 people — was one of the larger crowds he’s seen for a board meeting. “We typically only have firefighters come to these,” he said. The board members lauded the increased amount of people in the audience. “The best way to find out what’s going on is to attend these meetings,” board member Alan Webber said.

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Comments

Sam Relaford 2 years, 8 months ago

Did anyone else know there was even a meeting going on? I never heard about it. I guess I must live under a rock. You want more people to attend then get the word out when and where you are going to have these public forums. Try radio or maybe an ad in the paper.

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Insider1313 2 years, 8 months ago

They only have to post it on the Door to the Fire Department and a somewhere else, in a certain amount of time before the meeting. That is all that is required be the guideline that goveren a Special Board. They say that they are getting the word out, and I did see a few mentions to this meeting in the paper. But I agree with you (Thefatguy) this one should have had a little more advertisement. They are trying to prove that they aren't hiding anything, they should be more proactive. But they will say that they have been this way for years, and that you are the one that needs to be informed. This is a way to shift focus off themselves and on to the public. It's a good move, but not the most direct. Well this should make some people mad. But I am not saying anything that hasn't been said by these people in their board meetings. So we will see, I still think that they are trying to sneak this building in. I still think there is something that they aren't tell the people, and even the firefighters themselves. I just wish that I knew what it was, just an opinion from my past experience.

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Insider1313 2 years, 8 months ago

I guess so ranger520. Something doesn't feel right.

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bring_it 2 years, 8 months ago

"I Wish You Could Know" I wish you could know what it is like to search a burning bedroom for trapped children at 3AM, flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below you burns.

I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 6 in the morning as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late. But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try to save his life.

I wish you knew the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turnout gear, the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke-sensations that I've become too familiar with.

I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire "Is this A false alarm or a working fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?" Or to call, "What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life-threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is he waiting for us with a 2x4 or a gun?"

I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead the beautiful five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the past 25 minutes. Who will never go on her first date or say the words, "I love you Mommy" again.

I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the engine, squad, or my personal vehicle, the driver with his foot pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn chain, as you fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic. When you need us however, your first comment upon our arrival will be, "It took you forever to get here!"

I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years from the remains of her automobile. "What if this was my daughter, sister, my girlfriend or a friend? What were her parents reaction going to be when they opened the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?"

I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my parents and family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.

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bring_it 2 years, 8 months ago

I wish you could know how it feels dispatching officers, firefighters and EMT's out and when we call for them and our heart drops because no one answers back or to here a bone chilling 911 call of a child or wife needing assistance.

I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically, abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they express their attitudes of, "It will never happen to me.

I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain or missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving someone's property, or being able to be there in time of crisis, or creating order from total chaos.

I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, "Is Mommy okay?" Not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long time friend who watches his buddy having CPR done on him as they take him away in the Medic Unit. You know all along he did not have his seat belt on. A sensation that I have become too familiar with.

Unless you have lived with this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, we are, or what our job really means to us......

I wish you could though.

  • author unknown *

Stay strong and true Craig Fire Rescue Fire Fighters, WE WILL NOT let negativity detour us from our goal of saving life and property. Thank you to our board of directors for getting us the best equipment so we can return home safely to our families after every call. We will always adapt, improvise, and over come anything in our paths.

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David Moore 2 years, 8 months ago

And then we would be in the same situation and we would be out of firefighters altogether. It's not all about a retirement benefit, I do my job because I like to help people, I imagine they do it for many of the same reasons.

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bring_it 2 years, 8 months ago

Wow what a selfish comment Mr. ranger520. Do you really think we do this job for a paycheck or retirement? We do this job to help our community when they are in need. How do you help your community sir? We do this job not for glory but because thier are so few that can. We do this job because we are not selfish, we are proud. Do not mistake our pride for arrogance, because if it was easy everyone would be a fire fighter. Mr. ranger520 what do you do for the town inwhich you live? What selfless acts do you lend to your fellow man? If I called you at 2a.m. would you come take me to the hospital because I was sick? Are you willing to miss the hoildays with your family to help a complete stranger? We are, and we will continue,with a smile on our faces and reasureance in our voices that when you call for help, help is on the way. So Mr. ranger520 its not about a paycheck, thats why we all have other jobs for paychecks and retirement. We are fire fighters because we are good people that want to make a differnce in someones life on thier worst day.

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Taxpayer 2 years, 8 months ago

Firemen aren't the only people who get called out to work during holidays, birthdays, etc. When the power goes off, linemen get called, a traffic accident, Troopers, Police, and Sheriff officers get called, broken water or gas lines City and natural gas employees get the call. And they work until the job/problem etc. is fixed. It doesn't matter; people come in to help their fellow community members. Linemen spit in the face of death everyday, along with law enforcement, gas and water employees, tow truck drivers, etc. The problem isn't the personnel, it is the problem with having a training tower for over a million dollars, or using one 20 minutes away. With all the money invested in the beautification of the hospital and college, why would we want a training tower there. Let's just use the facilities in Hayden. We didn't have a problem sending our good firemen to the Powder Wash for a fire. Seems like 20 minutes away isn't very far to travel back to Craig in comparison.

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David Moore 2 years, 8 months ago

Sure ranger, the thought of making $250,000 every year is always in my mind, who on this earth doesn't have that thought? But I don't even come close to that figure and it would literally take 6-7 years to attain it within my pay grade. The common fallacy is that people seem to think that just because some of us work in medicine that we all make outrageous fortunes off of it. Wrong again. I pay my bills, I pay my taxes and IF I have anything left over, I have fun with my kid, in other words I actually enjoy my life just like it is. I do my job because I love surgery, I love the challenge, I love helping people, I love working with millions of dollars of sophisticated equipment, and bottom line is that I love getting a result and seeing that patient later on sometime in the grocery store. Healthy, happy, healed. That is why I do my job. Do you really for one second think any of these firefighters do their jobs for the pay, for the retirement? They do their jobs for the very same reasons I do, it's what being a public servant is all about.

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David Moore 2 years, 8 months ago

Taxpayer, The training tower is under the covenants of the college, just like the hospital is. They have to build something that matches or is similar to what you see on that hill today. The ground they will put it on is free, therefore they must follow the rules of the property owner, which happens to be the college. On a second note, I cannot count how many birthdays missed, Christmases missed, thanksgiving dinners missed because someone had a ruptured appendix, a broken hip or a piece of meat stuck in their esophagus. We ALL make sacrifices as public servants, all of us.

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Taxpayer 2 years, 8 months ago

The land isn't free, we taxpayers paid for that land, and I don't think we should give it away for "free". Everyone who works for the public usually misses a lot of family time. This is not about the work our fire personnel perform, nor the sacrifices they make, it's about spending money that isn't needed to be spent. As soon as that petition comes around, there will be a lot of signatures to remove the mill levy.

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David Moore 2 years, 8 months ago

I know the land is not free, but it belongs to the college now and they can do with it whatever they feel is good for the community, even if it is donating it to a worthy cause. If they are going to start firefighter training programs, why not haver the training tower within walking distance of the school? Just like the nursing program has a hospital right next door it benefits all involved. This town will never progress with people who moan and groan about every nickel and dime spent, even those nickels and dimes that don't belong to them anymore.

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David Moore 2 years, 8 months ago

Pretty clear our opinions of progression differ. I don't see how a building that has to have the same construction concepts as the hospital or college will look like a mashed cat, it has to match what is already there. We also may not be talking actual nickels and dimes, but people like yourself who "nickel and dime" everything that comes across the table is why Craig is still years behind. I guess my brand of common sense is different, maybe it should just be called sense because there is nothing common about it anymore It will be built, like it or not. They will train and burn, like it or not. Might as well just get used to it.

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