Glenwood fire department recruiting heating up
Efforts to boost staffing in the Glenwood Springs Fire Department are meeting with initial success.Eighteen reserve firefighters have been hired since May, and six people have expressed interest in serving as volunteers, fire chief Mike Piper said.The help is arriving no time too soon. The department has responded to 908 calls so far this year, up 14 percent over the same period last year.The recruitment efforts also are part of the city’s commitment to the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, which rates fire departments for insurance purposes. Earlier this year, ISO had threatened to sharply downgrade Glenwood to the worse insurance rating, which could have resulted in sharp increases in premiums for many property owners and in some cases made them unable to obtain coverage.ISO’s chief concern was the department’s inability to respond with a minimum of four firefighters to structure fires.”We have been working very hard to achieve the goals promised to the community and to ISO,” Piper wrote Monday in a memo to city manager Jeff Hecksel.Piper called the effort to recruit reserves “very successful.” Reserves are paid, part-time firefighters. The department plans to do testing for more reserve candidates in September.Piper wrote that the early interest in volunteering is “promising due to the fact that we have not advertised yet for the position of volunteer firefighter.” The department has developed volunteer criteria and an application form and is awaiting approval of them from Hecksel and City Council.”The way I see the interest, I think we’re going to be very successful in getting the volunteers that we need to help us to augment the staff,” Piper said in an interview.The department has about 20 full-time staff. When the ISO issue first arose, some City Council members and city residents had questioned why Glenwood didn’t make more use of volunteers, as other area departments did. One reason was the increased difficulty finding people these days with the time to volunteer. But Piper is encouraged to see people coming forward. He believes it’s in response to the publicity over the ISO issue and the department’s occasional difficulty in responding quickly enough to fires with enough manpower. Mayor Bruce Christensen is happy with the results the department is showing so far in boosting staffing.”It looks like we’re gaining on it,” he said.Piper has been pleased with the department’s response to several fires this summer. In June, for example, it had to respond to multiple wildfire calls on the same day the big Jolley Mesa fire broke out near New Castle and a structure fire struck in the Carbondale area. Glenwood wasn’t able to rely on mutual aid from departments in those areas, yet was able to provide mutual aid to them and also adequately respond to its own calls.”We were kind of on our own to handle what we did and we did do that,” Piper said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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