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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
– Vesta M. Kelly  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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  FFPD facts and figures
  By Robin Widmar

   It is never an easy thing for a fire department to ask its citizens for more funding. Firefighters pride themselves on being able to get a job done with the resources they have. But there comes a time when it is necessary to increase funding in order to maintain and continue to improve emergency services to a growing community.
   
   The Falcon Fire Protection District has placed a question on the November ballot that asks voters to approve a mill levy increase of 6.274 mills. The increase is to fund a full-service, district-operated advanced life support ambulance to improve 911 response times for medical emergencies. The increase also would allow the district to add firefighter/EMTs to meet the demands of increasing call volume and continue to provide emergency fire, medical, rescue and hazmat services.
   
   Earlier this year, a citizen public safety task force studied district operations and funding and considered feedback generated from a community-wide mail survey. At the July 18 FFPD board meeting, task force representatives reported the results of the surveys and recommended that the district ask the voters for a mill levy increase to fund ALS ambulance service and increase staffing. The district board accepted the recommendation of the citizen task force and noted that the recommended mill levy increase also would help homeowners by maintaining the district’s favorable Insurance Services Office rating.
   
   Here are some facts the board took into consideration:
  • The Falcon Fire Protection District protects residents and businesses in 113 square miles of unincorporated El Paso County.
  • FFPD is funded primarily through property taxes. It does not receive any funding from either El Paso County or the state of Colorado, nor does it receive revenue from sales taxes
  • Since the fire district's inception in 1981, 37 years ago, it has had only two mill levy increases. The last mill levy increase was approved by voters in 2011 and was to retain professional firefighters that had been hired under a federal grant that expired.
  • FFPD currently has one of the lowest mill levies of any county fire district; yet, serves one of the fastest-growing areas.
  • The district has five fire stations. Three are staffed 24/7, two are not staffed.
  • FFPD is a “combination” fire department, meaning it utilizes paid (career) firefighter/EMTs as well as reserve (volunteer) personnel.
  • The number of calls for service has increased more than 26 percent in five years, from 1,979 calls in 2013 to a record 2,502 calls in 2017. As of Aug. 30, 2018’s call volume was more than 11 percent higher than in 2017.
  • About 69 percent of all calls are for emergency medical services and traffic accidents
  • The number of calls resulting in transport by ambulance has increased more than 16 percent in the past two years.
  • Ambulance transports for district residents are currently provided by a private company under a countywide contract that ends Dec. 31, 2019.
  • In 2017, the district’s ISO rating improved to a Class 3/10, which translates to lower home insurance premiums for many residents. Staffing, response times, training, water supply and equipment are just some of the factors considered in ISO ratings.
  • Other county fire agencies, including Black Forest Fire/Rescue and the Ellicott Fire Protection District, are also seeking mill levy increases this November. Last year, voters approved mill levy increases for the Wescott Fire Protection District and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.

   
   The district board also took into consideration that FFPD does not receive funds from the county’s Public Safety Sales and Use Tax.
   
   An increase of 6.274 mills will result in a property tax increase of $3.76 per month for each $100,000 of actual value as determined by the El Paso County Assessor’s Office. In other words, the owner of a house with an actual value of $200,000 will pay an additional $90.24 per year. To determine a home's actual value, visit the El Paso County Assessor's website at http://land.elpasoco.com.
   
   MDA Fill the Boot campaign
   Many residents saw Falcon firefighters out and about from late August through Labor Day weekend raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through the annual Fill the Boot campaign. Thanks to the generosity of the citizens they serve, Falcon firefighters raised $5,789.95 to support MDA and its programs.
   
   Stay connected with the FFPD
   Website: http://www.falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
  
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  Fire Prevention Week: LOOK. LISTEN. LEARN.
  Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.
  By Robin Widmar

   Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7-13. The goal of this year’s message is to educate people about three basic but important things everyone can do to prevent fires, or to safely escape a fire if one does start.
   
   National Fire Protection Association statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1,000 home fires reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.
   
   
  1. “LOOK” around homes for potential fire hazards and take care of them. Here are some quick and easy things to start with:
    • Remove clutter from cooking areas. Keep anything that can burn (towels, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, loose papers/mail, etc.) away from stovetops.
    • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, including furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
    • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets.
    • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches and other smoking materials in a locked cabinet that is up high out of sight and out of the reach of children.

       
  2. “LISTEN” for the sound of the smoke alarm. Properly working home smoke alarms are the first line of defense in a fire and can reduce the risk of dying in a fire by half. Make sure alarms are functioning and everyone in the home knows what the smoke alarm sounds like by pressing the test button once a month. (Be sure to notify the alarm company first if it is a monitored system.)
    • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, in each bedroom and near all sleeping areas.
    • Test smoke alarms monthly.
    • Replace smoke alarms more than 10 years old. (Check the manufacturer’s date on the back of the alarm.)
  3. “LEARN” two ways out of every room. Develop a home escape plan with all family members that includes all of the following:
    • Two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window
    • A path from each exit to the outside
    • An outside meeting place at a safe distance in front of the home where everyone will meet

       Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter. Practice the escape plan with everyone in the family twice a year.

   For complete information on home fire safety, go to: https://www.nfpa.org/fpw and https://www.ready.gov/home-fires
  
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