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Taxpayer, Sorry we did not realize you had a question or just another comment. Hopefully this will answer your question. The District has provided 3 Live Fire Trainings over the past three years where the firefighters, that could travel, to a burn center at different places throughout the state attended. In addition, each Probationary Class of Firefighters attends a mandatory state certification burn during the end of their training at the Colorado Firefighter Academy in Southern Colorado. Changes cities each year.
We're glad you asked this question because the response shows a flaw in our current training program offered for our firefighters. The board recognizes that we do not provide adequate live fire training. Many times we have discussed the logistical problems of leaving the district for this type of training. Agree or not, we need come up with a solution that works for our people because looking at the numbers, what we're doing it is not enough or adequate for the safety of our firefighters. Yes having a Live Fire Simulator/Tower in our back yard will get used 3 to 4 times every month. Hope this gives you the information you asked for.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why does Craig need a training facility when Hayden already has one?
Why doesn't the fire district ask the taxpayers how to spend the money?
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.
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