1

Staff Reports

February 2024 Staff Report

#FFFFFF
Photo of crews posing on the ice for a risk reduction safety message
#FFFFFF

Photo of crews posing on the ice for a risk reduction safety message

Fire Chief's Report

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

Calls for Service Analysis

As of the report date, we are on call #156 for the year. We are currently averaging 4.22 calls per day with an annual pace of 1540.

Correspondence

The email below is exactly why we do what we do…well done, everyone, and thank you as always! 

“Dear TJ and Team, 

I'm writing today to express my heartfelt appreciation for Elizabeth Fire. 

There are two pivotal moments in my life that are shared by your team. One was two years ago when I called for emergency assistance for my mother and the other was more recent when my husband required the same. 

I lost my Mom a week after she was transported to the hospital and no words can express how deeply that affected me. But during all of that, I have held a deep respect for and appreciation for the responders who carefully, confidently, and quickly handled the situation and got her to the hospital with such professionalism and care. I've always had it in my heart to say thank you, but sometimes in such grief it is hard to find the words or the right way to do that. But since that day, every time I drive by the station, I say a prayer for our responders.

Recently, in October, responders came to the aid of my husband who was alone at home and was badly injured. He called for assistance, and I believe that the 911 operator and the responders saved his life. He had severed an artery in his hand and the injury was very traumatic. He was told what to do, how to respond when help arrived, and was calmed enough to be able to do so. Responders came into our home and treated my husband in his shock and trauma, dealt with our pets like they were their own, and left no indication they were here. They quickly got him to the hospital for emergency surgery and the surgeon/specialist remarked that the care he had received prior to getting to the hospital likely saved his life and certainly his hand. He was treated with respect and their actions lessened his stress in his moment of need. 

It is apparent that Elizabeth Fire and all of our first responders in Elbert County are absolutely at the heart of this community. You impact so many lives and touch so many of our most vulnerable moments. We are blessed to have your crew in the County, and my family and I want to thank you for treating each of those moments with absolute commitment to care. You don't just take care of people, you all care for them. Thank you doesn't seem enough. But I truly, and with abiding respect, thank you and your crew. 

Thank you.”

Staffing

We have made a few changes in staffing to fill temporary gaps and add to our existing staff roster:

  • Firefighter Paramedic Justin Hinz has accepted a permanent full-time position and has been assigned to A-Shift. This permanent position is part of our budgeted plans to expand staffing in 2024. 
  • STO Nathaniel Einarsen has been temporarily appointed to A-Shift Lieutenant. Nate is #1 on our promotion list and will fill a temporary gap in management on that shift. 
  • FF Brittany McGhee has accepted a temporary full-time position and has been assigned to C-Shift. Brittany comes from our part-time staff roster. 
  • FF Gregory Tice has accepted an offer to be a part-time firefighter and starts this month.
#FFFFFF
Photo of Justin Hinz
Photo of Nathaniel Einarsen
Photo of Brittany McGhee
Photo of Gregory Tice
#FFFFFF

From left to right, photos of Justin Hinz, Nathaniel Einarsen, Brittany McGhee, and Gregory Tice

Facilities

General

  • I have been working with Convergint Technologies (the only contractor that has followed up with us) to finalize a bid for access control into all buildings. Our plan is to provide one door for every building that has access control via keypad or card access. We can then secure the other doors with less troublesome commercial security doors. I plan to include 50% of this cost in our March grant application through DOLA. 

Station 271

  • I have all of the bids for the sewer grant process. DOLA still has interest in funding this project in the March cycle. 
  • The landscaping project has been completed and will be a great cosmetic addition to dress up the station. We can’t wait to actually see it without snow. I really dislike snow. 

Station 272

  • The new roof had some warranty repairs fixed this month. There was a leak around one of the vents that created moisture in a vent chase. 
  • Living furniture has been replaced thanks to Lt. Booth and Lt. Neisen. The old furniture was the original furniture and was desperately in need of upgrades. 

Station 273

  • The hot water heater failed this month but was quickly replaced thanks to the quick work from our Station 273 staff. They were able to get a plumber quickly so that hot water was only temporarily interrupted. Supply chain issues and inflation continue to affect our budgets. The cost of this repair was about $5500.  
  • Living furniture has been replaced thanks to Lt. Booth and Lt. Neisen. I appreciate them taking the time to complete this job and within budget. 

Apparatus

  • We currently do not have any major problems with engines. The replacement motor seems to be running great. The other Pierce engine had an oil leak in the injector assembly that was replaced but the good news is that it wasn’t a cracked head as suspected. 
  • Our committee is still discussing the importance of a type 3 engine in our fleet. We are keeping an eye out for some cost-effective options for an all-wheel drive engine that can be used during snowstorms but also be used for deployments and wildland response in warmer seasons. 
  • The committee is finalizing a spec for our newest replacement ambulance. It is substantially complete, and Chief Mackall is applying for an EMTS grant to cover 50% of the 2024 application. Interestingly enough, there are no dodge chassis available, and the only reliable options would be a Ford F-450 chassis with a gas powerplant. Get this…the quote includes a 2027 chassis. This means the build time is expected to extend into 2026. We understand the grant allows extensions for these significant delays in the build.

ELCO Fire Chiefs

Chiefs have finalized the countywide driveway construction standard. It will be implemented by Public Works and further enforced by local FDs by policy. This is the first time in my memory that the county will have a driveway standard applied countywide. A group of bunnies is known as a “fluffle.”

Community Leaders & Area Managers (CLAMS)

We cancelled our January CLAMS due to time constraints but will be meeting in February.

FEMA/Flooding Update

Because we were the first agency to complete all of our requirements for FEMA’s process (kudos again to Sarah), we are now in a holding pattern waiting for the others to finalize and FEMA to process. Our reimbursement amount isn’t very large but every penny counts.

ECCA

ECCA has requested to move their meeting dates to the 2nd Monday of the month. We continue to watch the organization and ask questions about a succession plan with leadership and how local agencies are funded in the future. ECCA has been instrumental in developing capital replacement projects for radios and towers. They have also helped with dispatching costs, but I feel there are other ways to distribute funds to local agencies that could provide better services. I have included FF Sheikh and Chief Gerczynski in our correspondence and meetings so that we can continue to provide solid influence beyond my retirement date.

Legislative

In true legislator fashion; there are a number of bills being introduced that could affect us. Below are just a small representation for now, as many of the bills get killed and never make it out of committee. 

  • 2 bills were introduced that address the cardiac and cancer trust – one requires cities to comply with the trust instead of being self-insured. This is a CPFF supported bill. The other would require the state to fund coverage of volunteer and part time employees. We, of course, are in support of this. 
  • HB24-1073 would include Special Districts into the independent ethics commission jurisdiction.
  • HB24-1172 County Revitalization Authorities – This is not great for FPDs but the good news is we don’t have to opt out; we would have to opt in. 
  • HB24-1026 - Requires Local Government to renew its TABOR Exemptions - Killed in committee but this is a sign of more efforts to reinstate TABOR restrictions. 
  • HB24-1125 - Provides tax credits for converting commercial property to residential to fix housing needs. This is problematic in that we could see more commercial properties converted into potentially unsafe residential living conditions.
  • HB24-1166 - Expanding Homestead Exemptions for seniors and veterans. Won't likely make it very far. Would significantly reduce the state’s ability to provide local backfill, which could contradict the current backfill efforts for FPDs. 
  • SB24-002 - Local Government Property Tax Credits - Allows counties to offer local and specific tax credits for incentives such as growth, etc. It could affect us but will probably allow us to opt out.
  • SB24-033 - Short term rental taxes. Changes short-term rentals into commercial instead of residential over 90 days per year. This is a good thing for FPDs in tourism areas but shouldn’t affect us too much. 
  • HB24-1140 - Workers Comp for complex trauma - expands benefits for PTSD after a series of small events or "Complex Trauma". A good thought but could impact Workers Comp rates. Also documentation of Complex events would be additional impact on HR.
  • HB24-1218 - Ground Ambulance Service Rates - Ability to charge for other services outside of guidance like transportation without care. This is geared more towards private ambulance companies and it is unclear how this bill would integrate with title 32 restrictions for FPDs
  • Initiative 50 – I met with Michael Fields from Advance Colorado Institute during a Colorado Chiefs meeting recently. They have confirmed that Initiative 50 will be on the ballot unless the legislature develops a better plan at controlling property taxes. Initiative 50 intends to limit property tax growth to 4% annually, which is more restrictive than its predecessor TABOR (Douglas Bruce). This initiative will affect the FPDs dramatically. 
  • There will also be a bill dropping soon that will address the restrictions on FPDs in Title 32. This bill will hopefully reduce the restrictions we have in choices for revenue. The intent of the correction is to allow FPDs to look for alternative funding methods beyond just property taxes. I’m assuming that any additional options for revenue would and should require voter approval unless it was tied to a response fee or other service fee. 

Grants

  • Assistance to Firefighters Grant: This grant is substantially complete. All SCBAs have been delivered, and we are waiting for additional batteries, chargers and masks to close out the grant. This was the joint grant involving 5 agencies, and we won’t be doing this again. It was an enormous amount of work for Sarah and our B-Shift crews. 
  • SAFER: Grant for 6 full-time positions. We were denied this cycle but are evaluating whether to use the grant writer to give it another shot. 
  • EMTS Grant: Chief Mackall will have more details on this cycle but we are indeed applying for a 50% match on a new ambulance. 
  • Google: This grant is moving swiftly now, and we should have the majority of funds from the first cycle expended early 2024.
  • DOLA - Energy Impact: As stated above, I changed direction on the DOLA Energy Impact Grant and will be asking for a micro grant to repair/replace septic and sewer systems at 271 and 273, and I might include the access control if they allow us to. I believe our costs for both projects have decreased to $60,000. The DOLA grant would pay for 50% of those costs. 
  • Congressionally Directed Spending: So far, we are still in the running for Senator Hickenlooper’s Congressionally Directed Spending grant. We have asked for a new Type III engine through this funding source at a cost of $550,000. I think this is a long shot, but you never know. A senator standing next to a shiny fire engine could be a good thing for a Colorado election. 
  • Firehouse Subs: We were approved for funding from Firehouse Subs grants to purchase $28,000 worth of rescue equipment. Thanks to all of the members that worked on developing this application. We anticipate receiving this equipment in the 1st quarter of this year and will place it all in service after training. 

Division Chief

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

Prevention/Administration

  • We had a kick-off meeting with the Stampede Rodeo and other first responder agencies. They will be having a similar schedule to last year with the concert on Thursday night. They have some hurdles to jump because their main parking lot may be under construction, leaving less parking for the attendees. They are working on alternatives, including using buses to transport from the school parking lots.
  • Had a discussion meeting with The Patch and Elbert County Staff. We issued them a temporary permit to move to their new location last year, and this year we are looking at options for a more permanent option. We did not have a big impact from this event except for a few medical calls. 
  • Chief and I had a meeting with Douglas County IT about the tech services they will provide for the crew force application and MDT application. They stated that we can continue to call them for IT issues related to those applications particularly but may have to look at service contracts for the future. We will continue to monitor the support we are receiving from IT. 

Plan Review/Inspection (Ryan Seng)

Ryan has been working on tying up inspections from the 2023 Annual Inspections Program. 

  • He has been working on gaining compliance with the businesses that are referred to the bureau. 
  • The school inspections are 85% completed and should be finished within the next month. 
  • On January 15, 2024, the Elizabeth Fire Protection District sent out inspection surveys to 167 businesses for the 2023 inspection year. In total, the district received 23 responses of which 21 were surveys and 2 were comments. Of these responses, 22 were positive and 1 was negative. One business reported that they are a small business and had six to eight firefighters conducting the inspection. They reported that the inspection negatively impacted their services to their clients and requested that fewer firefighters do the inspection in the future. 22 businesses reported good or excellent on their surveys for services delivered in a timely manner, personnel being courteous and pleasant, personnel presenting themselves as professional and knowledgeable, personnel communicating well with the owners and employees, and meeting the overall expectations of the fire department. Three key factors were repeated among multiple comments: professional, knowledgeable, and respectful.

Fire and Life Safety Education (Erin Loeks)

  • Alternative Education students from EHS came to Station 271 to bring baked goods and handmade cards. They also had a station tour.
  • We are continuing this year with reading to the preschools at both RCE and SHE.
  • Safety messages using the crews have been very successful and we will continue to utilize the crews for our safety messaging for 2024. 
  • We have a new volunteer CPR/AED instructor named Teather Turney. She is a nurse and wanted to give back to her community. She will be teaching the community CPR class that is coming up at the end of the month. 
  • A homeschool group of 30 kids of varying ages came to do a tour of Station 271. While one group was getting a station tour, the other was learning the safety lesson. They were a great group. Tommy was thrilled that they were so interested in the Ambulance!!! 
#FFFFFF
Photo of crews giving a station tour
Photo of crews giving a station tour
#FFFFFF

Photos of crews giving a station tour

#FFFFFF
Photo of new Volunteer CPR/AED Instructor Teather Turney
#FFFFFF

Photo of new Volunteer CPR/AED Instructor Teather Turney

#FFFFFF
Photo of Pre-Application Meetings
#FFFFFF

Photo of Pre-Application Meetings

Finance & Human Resources

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

  • In the month of January, we were able to complete our request for backfill from FEMA for the floods. We are not sure when the money will be received but the application has been submitted. 
  • The budget was also approved by the board at the January meeting, and I sent the budget to the state and the county to keep us in compliance. 
  • We have met with the 4 other fire departments that are included in the SCBA grant to get the final request in for the remaining funds. I hope to have everything completed for this grant by the end of the 1st quarter this year.
  • The reserve program revamping has been completed and applications can be submitted. We have only received one so far, which means we might push the interviews time schedule for February to March. We also opened the application process to interview for a few more part-time paramedics. We have received 3 applications so far. 
  • This month, we did have 2 personnel issues come up that we are working through. This has required a lot of our time.

EMS collection for November $47,875.28.

Development and Impact Fees: 

Zone 1 $422,486.30

Zone 2 $15,545.15

Zone 3 $18,416.05

Gift Agreement $212,000.00

Infrastructure Fund $85,146.00

Battalion Chief of Operations

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

  • Well, it seems the new year is finally under way. The long awaited landscaping project has been completed at Station 271 for the most part. This spring, when the ground thaws, we hope to plant a few drought resistant plants in the front to break up the large amount of rock that is up there. We marked the new landscape area before the snow began this year, and, so far, we haven’t had any issues with snow plowing tearing up any of the landscaping.
  • We are beginning to look at starting some of the projects we budgeted for this year at Station 271. The big one will be new garage door openers on the north side of the building now that the primary use doors on the south side have been replaced. The reliability of these openers has been a welcome relief, and we have been very happy with the auto close feature.
  • Lt. Reeder and I have completed an evaluation of some smaller thermal imaging cameras to place in the back seats of our engines. These are not replacements for the TIC in the officers seat but, in addition to them, this will allow the back seat firefighter to have use of that equipment on a fire attack or during search and rescue operations. The cameras we are looking at are the same brand and have the same operation as our other TICs, but without a few of the extra features that, frankly, we really don’t use. We have had the opportunity to demo these units, and I have had practical use of it at a live fire we responded to. I was impressed at their performance and particularly the ease of use. After getting feedback from the crews on the unit, we will be placing an order for those this month and hope to have them in service by the end of next month depending on delivery dates. Training needs will be minimal since they are so similar to our current units.
  • Rattlesnake Fire has completed the install of fuel tanks at the fleet building. We now have access to gasoline and diesel in the northern part of the district so Stations 272 and 273 apparatus will not have to travel to Station 271 for fuel.
  • I have finally received the hydrant adapter for the cistern hydrant at Station 272. This will allow all of our engines and tenders to be able to draft from the cistern there and closes out that project.
  • We have identified a few addresses off south County Road 17-21 where we were being routed incorrectly from CAD. This stems from private drives not being marked in the GIS mapping system. CAD then chooses the closest county road to the address as access, even if there is not a connection between those points. Those have been repaired; however, we located another two addresses off County Road 25 with the same issue. They have been reported and are being worked on. This will be an ongoing project as those driveways are identified, but both the county and DRDC have been quick to get these corrected.
  • We had a few members go to ice rescue training last month, and they brought back some great information on equipment needs and some procedure changes. Both are pretty minor changes from how we operate those rescues now, but I am working with them to tweak our SOP, equipment, and procedures to fine tune our responses. Chief Carnesi will coordinate training for the changes.
  • We are working through the details of the Firehouse Subs grant, which is slated for rope rescue gear. Hopefully, that equipment will start to be ordered soon.
  • Apparatus are in pretty good shape right now. Engine 273 was sent to Marini Diesel to check on what looked like it could be a head gasket leak. Fortunately, it was an injector pass through harness and fuel pump gear leak that were both repaired quickly. All other apparatus are getting caught up with PMs currently through fleet.
  • I have had a number of sets of tires that have needed replacement on ambulances and staff vehicles due to wear, and I still have a couple of brush trucks that will need new tires due to age.
  • I believe Chief Steck is providing an update on the progress of the Apparatus and Purchasing committee, so I won’t bore you with those details twice!
#FFFFFF
Photo of mutual aid fire in Rattlesnake Fire’s district
#FFFFFF

Photo of mutual aid fire in Rattlesnake Fire’s district

Battalion Chief of Training

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

  • We are on track to meet our March 1 deadline to get new MSA packs in service. We are training our reserves that don't have a FFI cert to use the equipment in a defensive fire attack.
  • 2 RIT packs have been ordered. We had hoped to order 3, but the cost would have put us significantly over budget. We will attempt to budget for one more RIT set-up in 2025.
  • SCBA inventory tools have been received, and masks are being distributed to part-time and career members.
  • Lt. Regan and STO Tyler are attending a class with ROI to become technicians for the new SCBA equipment.
  • Additional masks are being ordered with leftover grant funds.
  • Peer support team training is scheduled for the last week of February. The additional three members of this team will give our internal members more options for peer support. We will eventually be offering our support to neighboring law and fire agencies, but that process may take some time. I applied for a DFPC grant to help support the growing needs for this program. If awarded, the grant has no match requirement from the department.
  • STO Einarsen, STO Tyler, and Paramedic Johnson completed Ice Rescue Specialist training. They will be training the shifts on advanced techniques for these scenarios.
  • Our 2024 academy schedule has been finalized; we are just wrapping up the list of instructors. Elizabeth has 10 cadets.
  • Our cardiac evaluations (CORE) will be completed by February 13th.
#FFFFFF
Photo of STO Einarsen, STO Tyler, and Paramedic Johnson at Ice Rescue Specialist training
#FFFFFF

Photo of STO Einarsen, STO Tyler, and Paramedic Johnson at Ice Rescue Specialist training

Battalion Chief of EMS

#FFFFFF
#FFFFFF

  • The new Stryker power prams have arrived; we are awaiting the delivery of the spare batteries before they are placed in service. This equipment was purchased with funding from the EMTS grant. 
  • We are in the process of completing our next EMTS grant request for funding to assist with the purchase of a new ambulance. This would be a new build, and the purchasing committee is evaluating what manufacturer and chassis to go with. The chassis seems to be the sticking point as they are still hard to come by, but it looks like a Ford F-550 is going to be our best option. I’ll update more next month. 
  • ETO Gamboa has updated our paramedic field instruction process. This was a much-needed update that will streamline and create consistency in the onboarding process for our new paramedics. Thanks, Tommy! 
  • Station 273’s water heater failed abruptly and required replacement under the station maintenance budget. It was replaced with a new 50-gallon commercial grade high efficiency unit. 

EMS Calls (excluding "no patient"):

  • Jan 2023 = 69 (48 Transports/70%)
  • Jan 2024 = 68 (48 Transports/71%)