Hayden The West Routt Fire Protection District has filled its ranks with a third full-time firefighter, and a fourth should be hired in January.
The additional firefighting positions have been made possible because of a tax increase passed by voters in the Nov. 5 election.
“I think the department is going in the direction it needs to go,” Chief Bryan Rickman said Tuesday.
In its first year, the tax increase will raise an additional $175,000 in revenue for the district. Based on current property values, it would raise $214,000 in subsequent years.
Staffing needs were one of the reasons cited for the funding increase.
Rickman said it costs about $50,000 in benefits and wages to hire a full-time firefighter.
In addition to two more full-time firefighters, the fire district has budgeted to replace half of the district’s protective clothing worn by firefighters and five of its 30 air packs. The district will make some improvements to their training facility and is looking into upgrading extrication equipment that is 25 years old.
Brad Parrott, a 2008 Hayden High School graduate whose father, Dan, is a longtime volunteer firefighter for the district, started his new job Dec. 3.
Brad Parrott also had volunteered at the Hayden department before taking a job with the Liberal Fire Department in Kansas. He worked there for about two years and was named rookie of the year.
“I definitely wanted to get back,” Parrott said. “This is where I’m from. It’s good to be home.”
Parrott has an Associate of Applied Science degree in fire science technology from Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs.
Aside from his experience at the Liberal department, Rickman said, Parrott was a good candidate because he has the training in emergency medical service.
“You have to be able to do EMS because 85 percent of what we do is EMS related,” Rickman said.
Rickman said the fourth full-time firefighter added to Hayden’s roster likely will be hired from within the department. Two people have applied so far.
“They’re both qualified,” Rickman said.
To respond to calls, the Hayden department uses a combination of full-time and part-time firefighters and volunteers who are paid per call. Before Parrott was hired, the department’s only full-time firefighters were Rickman and Assistant Fire Chief Dal Leck.
Rickman said having four full-time firefighters should help ensure fast response times. It also will guarantee that at least one full-time firefighter is working on weekends.
“There is someone in the fire station seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Rickman said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club