TMH Board backs proposed fire training facility, with a provision


In other action ...

At its regular meeting Thursday, The Memorial Hospital Board:

• Accepted, 7-0, a 2011 audit and cost report from Mike Rowe of Stockman Kast Ryan, the hospital’s auditing firm. The firm gave the hospital a clean audit opinion, which is “the audit opinion you want,” Rowe said. The hospital had a “very successful year” in terms of cash generation, collections and other areas, he said.

• Approved, 7-0, the reappointment of Bonnie Hampton to The Memorial Hospital Foundation board.

• Approved, 7-0, spending $125,000 in capital funds to renovate a portion of The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic to make room for pediatric services. The money was originally set aside to move the hospital’s physical therapy services from Centennial Mall to the clinic, but the project was postponed in February when renovation bids came in too high.


“I think it’s very reasonable that the board will assure you … that we would pay the associated cost for negligence on our part.”

— Chris Nichols, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board secretary/treasurer, on concerns that smoke generated by a proposed live fire simulator could potentially shut down The Memorial Hospital’s air filtration systems.

A proposal to build a firefighter training facility south of The Memorial Hospital in Craig got a unanimous green light from the hospital board Thursday.

However, the board’s support of the facility, which includes a live fire simulator, came with a condition.

“I support the project,” Chief Executive Officer George Rohrich told Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board members at the meeting.

But, the CEO expressed concern that smoke generated by the fire simulator could interfere with the air filtration systems that feed into the hospital’s operating rooms.

The system shuts down if clogged by smoke, and restarting it requires professional help, he said.

“This probably won’t be a problem, but what if it was?” Rohrich said.

He recommended the board vote in support of the project with the proviso the fire board agree to reimburse the hospital for costs associated with restarting the filtration systems, should smoke from fire training shut it down.

“That just seems fair,” Rohrich said.

Chris Nichols, fire board secretary/treasurer, agreed.

“I think it’s very reasonable that the board will assure you … that we would pay the associated cost for negligence on our part,” he said.

He later said the fire board would adopt a resolution to put the agreement in writing.

Byron Willems, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board president, assured hospital members that the simulator would generate little smoke.

Only materials like hay, straw and wood pallets — which generally produce a light white or gray smoke — would be burned in the facility, he said.

The heavy, black smoke created by petroleum products is “not what you’ll ever see from this training facility,” he said.

He added that specialized insulation would prevent the simulator itself from being consumed during live fire trainings.

On days in which the wind blows toward the hospital, the simulator could burn other substances to further cut down on smoke.

The fire board has approved spending up to $1.5 million for the training facility, which also would include a tower standing about 55-feet tall in which firefighters could practice working in multi-story buildings.

Leftover Department of Local Affairs funds, along with money from a mil levy voters approved in 2006, would cover the cost of the training center.

“We fully plan on coming in under budget,” Willems said.

Concerns about the hospital’s ventilation system aside, Rohrich and other board members expressed support for the project.

“We certainly do look forward to a new neighbor on the hill,” he said.

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primetime81625 5 years ago

Here is novel idea. Just forget about the training facility, partner with Hayden and Routt County and use the facility there. Save the money for when the Craig Fire Protection District wants to buy the next $450,000 toy they don't need!!!


saunders 5 years ago

Roughly 50% of all firefighter fatalities are cardiac events. Live fire training is designed to be physically demanding and simulate you guessed it an actual structure fire. TMH sends an ambulance crew to every fire scene not only for victims and patients but for the firefighters themselves. They monitor blood pressures, heart rates whenever firefighters need their packs refilled. Why is this important when discussing the facility in Hayden? If an injury or cardiac event took place where is the nearest hospital that could provide care? Just up the hill from the proposed tower or roughly 20 miles from the Hayden facility. This is just one reason why this facility makes sense.

I can continue to make point after point using data and sound logic but I have yet to see a factual argument against the construction of this facility. I see some arguments based off an apparent axe to grind with a particular board member or the Chief. I see arguments that the tax payers were lied to when the wording in the mill increase ballot question clearly fits with the scope of this project. I see arguments on location but the nearest neighbor unanimously supports the project. I see the need for equipment and training questioned by people who I can only assume have never experienced what these men and women do. Please someone tell me how we can be so against a project diligently saved for while they maintained the capital replacement plan outline some 6 years ago?

I doubt that anyone who has directly been effected by the men and women who serve our community would doubt the honest or integrity. Even in today's paper a thank you letter commends them for what they do and the manner in which they do it. I would love to see those stories posted here. Maybe then we would as a community see that this facility is for everyone. This facility is for our community for you for your neighbors so that when needed they have the best trained department possible respond to assist them.


xrsareus 5 years ago

Ranger520, I thought you were making an informed opinion when you express your views about the Fire District. I looks like through your last post that your opinion is just the opposite, just an uniformed rant. If you don't go to the meetings, how are you forming an accurate opinion? Maybe until you know both sides you should close your sphincter and shut your rectum. I don't form an opinion until I know all the facts. Have a good day...


xrsareus 5 years ago

Ranger520, Could you give us a list of you reading material about Fire Departments and Training buildings? I would like to read these also. Or are your opinions formed by stories in the paper and rumors at the coffee shop or power plant?


xrsareus 5 years ago

Just trying to see how you formed your opinions, how you got your point of view. Thought maybe you would share your reading material. If you want people to share your views on this subject you need to prove your point. Or are you afraid to be ridiculed and made fun of like someone else posted?


xrsareus 5 years ago

Ranger520, Quote from you "I know enough about both sides to post the opinion that I have" So I'll ask gain.....share your information you know, so all can form their own opinion. I also form my opinions also from what I learn. Maybe I don't know the whole story, so inform me. Change my opinion or try to.


ATaxpayer 5 years ago

This training center is becoming a poor example to firefighters around Colorado and other states. It is not putting a positive spin on our community. It is too bad.


cforevereyez 5 years ago

The spin I see is coming from the fire board.

In the original article that outlined this project, Willems stated that they would be burning old furniture like couches etc.(they do produce black smoke) but NOW says that they will be burning other materials that don't produce smoke. So which one is it, or are we just being told what they want us to hear?

This is being built southwest of the hospital, the wind direction that we have for most of the summer months. What could go wrong with that?

This project does not meet zoning restrictions. It should be built outside of town where it belongs, or not built at all.


CraigFireBoard 5 years ago

Thank you to those of you who have posed questions about the Craig Fire/Rescue live burn building/fire simulator and training tower. After reading this discussion forum and fielding questions in the community, we hope providing answers to these questions on this forum will be beneficial to those with an interest in what we are doing.

  1. Why does Craig need a training facility when Hayden already has one?

  2. Why doesn't the fire district ask the taxpayers how to spend the money?

  3. Is it a bad idea to have a live fire training facility in town and near the hospital?

We will answer these three questions in three posts to follow. We hope to engage interested forum participants in a discussion about these issues and to best communicate our position so readers know the facts about why we think this is important.

As always, please feel free to contact any member of the fire board directly if we can provide further information, or feel free to attend the regularly scheduled board meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. the 3rd Thursday of each month at the fire station located at 419 Yampa Ave. in Craig.


CraigFireBoard 5 years ago

There are two primary reasons for better training facilities in Craig – protection of the fire district and safety of our firefighters. Craig Fire/Rescue maintains an excellent working relationship with West Routt Fire Protection District. We have used the Hayden burn facility many times since it was built. The facility is great. The logistics of training at the facility are not. It is not reasonable for our firefighters to train 17.5 miles from the city on a routine basis. It is not safe for our district or our part-time firefighters.

When Craig firefighters train in Hayden, we reserve the building in advance to ensure that West Routt Firefighters are able to staff their building. We pay the cost of materials. We are required to bring at least one fire truck for water supply and a minimum of four firefighters plus supervisory/training personnel, which requires manpower and fire trucks to be out of the fire district for extended periods of time. The building is most often only available on Saturday and Sunday, which means that Craig firefighters are out of the fire district on some of our statistically busiest days.

For Craig Fire/Rescue, it takes an average of 12-15 firefighters to safely manage a single-family structure fire. On any given day we cannot guarantee that the entire department is available for any given emergency. The average response is 15 firefighters for a structure fire. If we remove a minimum of five to seven firefighters from the fire district for training in Hayden, we have significantly reduced our chances of properly staffing calls in the district when an emergency occurs. A crew responding from Hayden to Craig will take a minimum of 15 minutes in travel time, plus the time it takes to suppress the fire in the burn building, disconnect the apparatus from the water supply, put the tools and equipment back on the truck and return to the district. It simply doesn’t make sense to compromise response time to emergencies or leave the district short-handed, putting the safety of the firefighters who do respond in jeopardy.

Live fire training is the only way to become skilled at fighting live fires. Unlike almost every other skill we teach in the fire service, live fire can’t be simulated. We have access to cars for auto extrication; Tri-State for confined space training; the Yampa River for water rescue training; and BLM for wildland fire training. But we can’t set fire to buildings and train.

This isn’t an issue of board members or fire officers looking for another feather in their caps. The only thing to be gained from better training resources and smarter training logistics is a community that is better protected by firefighters who are more skilled. These aren’t full-time employees with a desire for more “toys” to play with during their shifts. These are committed individuals who volunteer their time to train so they can respond when you need them.


CraigFireBoard 5 years ago

The taxpayers in Moffat County elect the fire board to represent the best interests of the taxing district and it's firefighters.

The CRFPD takes immense pride in the management of its assets and the building of solid savings through smart planning and execution – it’s what the taxpayers elected the board to do. Over the past seven years, the fire department has supplemented nearly every major purchase with grant funding sought and secured by fire department personnel totaling about $750,000. We don’t think this means we have too much money, we think it means we’re responsible. The taxpayers approved a mil levy increase in 2005 to help fund capital expenses related to equipment and apparatus.

Just as the taxpayers don’t want to determine the next piece of equipment the hospital should purchase, or whether the road and bridge department should purchase a new road grader, we hope they will elect the best people to represent the fire district and entrust us to spend the money in the best possible way for the district. The people monitoring this process come from all walks of life – the power plant, business owners, law enforcement, and the fire service. They are committed to doing the right things for the district and spending your money responsibly. After all, it’s their tax dollars, too.

As always, we encourage anyone to attend the board meetings, get involved in citizen work groups or meet with board members one-on-one. We also encourage everyone to get out and vote for the CRFPD Board of Directors. This is typically one of the lowest voter turnout elections in Moffat County. In the upcoming election, taxpayers have the opportunity to elect incumbents or a new candidate for the board. Now is the time for change if you want to see it.


CraigFireBoard 5 years ago

With regard to whether a burn building is safe near the hospital, the answer is yes. Live fire buildings exist across the state in metro areas, residential areas and commercial areas. If proper burn procedures are followed, live burning is safe for citizens.

NFPA 1403 (National Fire Protection Association) standards allow for live fire materials to be ordinary (Class A) combustibles, which include wood, hay and straw. When burned, these combustibles produce a light-colored or white smoke - not the traditional black or brown smoke seen when a structure and its contents are on fire. In a recent Craig Daily Press article, Fire Board President Byron Willems was quoted as saying that sofas and furniture would be burned. While furniture will be in the burn facility to simulate live fire situations, they will not be burned. Byron's statements could lead readers think we would be burning furniture. We will not. Only ordinary combustibles (hay, wood, straw).

According to NFPA 1403, no liquid accelerants can be used. A typical burn will consist of pallets and straw. Ordinary combustibles have very predictable properties, which make them ideal for safe and effective live burns. These materials also provide adequate heat and smoke with the least risk to firefighters or the environment.

The building will be built 740 feet from the TMH air intakes - more than two football fields. CFR will use real-time weather data to make determinations about appropriate burn dates and times and will cease burn operations when dominant north winds prevail. This has only occurred 8 out of the last 120 days.

If winds prevent Class A burns, the department will have the option to use natural gas and a smoke machine. This is not ideal for everyday use because it does not adequately simulate Class A fires and would not be cost effective if used daily.

These buildings are used all over the world. Proper protocols will ensure operating a safe training environment for everyone.


native_craig_guy 5 years ago

I honestly think that the CEO of the Hospital is overreacting to the potential clogging of the filters in the HVAC system. The amount of spoke that would be produced would be minimal in comparison to the total amount of volume of air that passes through the filters on any given day. In order for the HVAC system to "shut down" the filters would need to be entirely clogged up and the system would shut down because of heat stress from the motors and/or flow sensors that would detect that the system is having to work too hard to push air through the filters. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters only stop 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns (1 millionth of a meter) in diameter. A Class A fire (Ordinary Combustibles like Paper, Wood and Natural Cloth) only produce "smoke" with a particle size between 0.2-3.0 microns. So the filter would be effective for 90% of the smoke that goes through the system... In order for the filter to get clogged it would have to be sucking smoke almost directly from the fire for hours and hours. The likelihood of this happening is remote. When you combine that with the fact that the prevailing winds are out of the west the chance of overwhelming the system is even more remote. The hospital should be fine even if the college catches on fire and burns to the ground.


cforevereyez 5 years ago

The Craigfireboard response makes no sense. Once again they can't get their own facts straight. They said they are going to curtail burning when the wind direction is out of the north. The structure is being built on the south side of the hospital. They need to curtail burning when the wind direction is out of the south - which in the summertime, is MOST OF THE TIME! And it's only 740 feet away from the hospital.

A request for a zoning varience (because this project does NOT meet zoning requirements) has been requested by the Craig Rural Fire Protection District. A public hearing will be held at 6:00 on 4/16/2012 at the Craig City Council Chambers. Written objections may be filed with the city clerk any time before the hearing. You conveniently left that out Craigfireboard.


CraigFireBoard 5 years ago


Our apologies for not addressing the variance issue. That is not a question we were aware was asked. We will not intentionally avoid issues, but we can't anticipate every question that our taxpayers might have.

The zoning variance request that will be heard on 4/16/12 is to allow the training tower to be built at a finished height of 55' instead of the city zoning limitation of 50'. The purpose for the variance is to allow the tower to be built at the actual city zoning height limit - 50' plus safety railings. To safely train at 50', the top of the building will have a parapet (a low protective wall along the edge of a roof or balcony) plus a safety railing, increasing the building height to 55'.

Without the variance, the fire department would construct a building that is lower than the zoning limit, meaning firefighters will not ever be able to train at the same height at which they may be required to work. While the difference in height may not seem like a lot, an entire story (10') represents a significant difference in training vs. reality and it makes sense to construct a building that will best prepare firefighters to respond in the district.

To clarify the wind issue, we are aware that our building will sit to the south of TMH. Our apologies for the confusing wording. The winds we speak about are winds traveling in a northerly direction. Based on years of live fire buildings and burning requirements in cities across the world, we are confident that we can develop burning procedures that will allow proper training while protecting critical environments surrounding the building.

We encourage anyone with an interest in the zoning variance to attend the meeting you referenced at 6 p.m. Monday, April 16 in City Council Chambers or to contact any member of the board. Building plans and a community Power Point exist for anyone who wishes to better understand the building layout and design or burning procedures.


cforevereyez 5 years ago

I agree. How do we go about doing this? Is it too late to put it on the November ballot? If anyone is interested, I would be more than willing to help out, I just don't know anything about the process.


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