Summit County firefighter mourned after fatal fall from roof of condo building
FRISCO — Summit Fire & EMS firefighter Ken Jones, 46, died after falling about 60 feet from the roof of a Copper Mountain condo building early Saturday, when crews were working to battle a fire at that location, according to Summit Fire & EMS officials.
The fire at Bridge End — 860 Copper Road, near the base of Copper Mountain Resort — was first reported by a call to 911 at 1:51 a.m. Saturday. Jones and a crew from the Copper fire station were the first on scene minutes later, according to Summit Fire spokesman Steve Lipsher.
Jones headed to the roof of the five-story building to find a way to access the fire. He fell to his death shortly before 2 a.m., according to Lipsher.
After the fall, emergency workers called to ask for help from another fire station outside of the Summit Fire department.
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“We had an engine crew from Vail come over the pass and continue to work on extinguishing the fire while we relieved our crews as soon as we possibly could,” Lipsher said.
The building was evacuated, and no one else was injured in the fire, according to Lipsher.
At this time, little is known about the cause of the fire or Jones’ fall, both of which will be investigated by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, according to officials.
On-duty death a first for Summit Fire
Jones’ death is the first in Summit Fire department history, and leadership in the department is working to support Jones’ family — including his wife and two young children, ages 11 and 13 — along with the Summit Fire team.
“To say the least, we are all devastated,” Summit Fire Deputy Chief of Operations Travis Davis said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
“These times can be trying on any organization,” Davis said. “This is the biggest nightmare that any fire department across the country will ever face. There’s going to be some dark days ahead of us.”
When asked what the fire department is doing to support its employees, Lipsher said, “everything that you can think of that compassionate humans would do for friends and family and colleagues — and Ken was all of that to all of us.
“We, like every other fire department in the country, have guidelines that we contemplate in sort of an abstract fire. … Emergency services and emergency responders have dangerous jobs, and it’s always a possibility, but until it actually happens, it’s such an abstract concept.”
Davis said the department would draw on the support of other organizations across the country that have experienced the death of an on-duty emergency responder.
“The concern when something like this takes place is what it does to the organizations that were involved in the long term,” Davis said. “… We’re going to do our best to keep this family that we’ve created up here over the years intact during these trying times.”
“It’s going to be a community loss, no doubt about it,” Davis said after a long pause.
Lipsher said the department would provide benefits for Jones’ family along with counseling for staff.
“The biggest thing is we want to take care of Ken’s family and ourselves and the broader community as the ripple effects of the tragedy spread,” Lipsher said.
Remembering Ken Jones
Jones, who was a 20-year veteran of Summit Fire, typically works at the Frisco fire station. He was at the Copper station overnight Friday to help out by covering a shift for overtime, according to Lipsher.
Lipsher, who joined Summit Fire about a decade ago, called Jones “soft spoken” and “just a decent human being.”
“Ken was a really quiet guy, and he loved to just be on the periphery, but boy did he pay attention, and he was really sharp about things,” Lipsher said. “He didn’t say much, but when he did, it was either insightful or bone-dry funny.”
Davis, who notified Jones’ wife, Keri, at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday said she was doing “as good as we could expect.”
“She answered the door, and she knew,” Davis said. “No matter how many times you make these kind of notifications in the line of duty for all of our responders, you’re just never quite equipped to do that when it’s one of your own. But you do the best you can, and you rally around your people, and you get through it.”
Though a funeral is not yet planned, Lipsher said firefighters from around the state and region would attend to show their support for a fallen firefighter.
“I think it’s really important to show the world who we lost, just as decent and sweet natured of a person as you would ever meet,” Lipsher said.
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