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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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  Mill levy, keeping up with the FFPD
  By Robin Widmar

   Voters approve FFPD mill levy increase
   On Nov. 6, residents of the Falcon Fire Protection District voted to approve ballot measure 6B, with 10,200 “yes” votes (59.16 percent) versus 7,041 “no” votes (40.84 percent), according to El Paso County unofficial election results posted online (last updated Nov. 14).
   
   The measure increases the FFPD mill levy from 8.612 mills to 14.886 mills for the purpose of maintaining and improving emergency response for residents of the fire district, which covers one of the fastest-growing areas in the county.
   
   FFPD would like to thank its residents for their support of this ballot measure. Since the Falcon Fire Department’s inception in 1975, the goal of its members and leadership has always been to provide the best possible emergency services to district residents. The passing of 6B will
  • Improve the overall efficiency and safety of firefighters by ensuring sufficient personnel are available to respond to all types of incidents;
  • Help the district maintain its hard-earned Insurance Services Office rating, which reduces homeowners insurance premiums for many residents;
  • Ensure that FFPD residents will continue to have access to Advanced Life Support and ambulance transport services in the face of uncertain future private provider contracts with the county; and
  • Allow district resources to keep pace with the fast-growing Falcon community.

   
   What’s next?
   When 6B passed, Fire Chief Trent Harwig told FFPD personnel in an email, “Now the work begins.” But in truth, the district’s leadership, board members and other personnel have already been preparing for this.
   
   At the October board meeting, Harwig said he had prepared two versions of the 2019 budget to account for alternate scenarios including the mill levy increase or no mill levy increase. Other items that District personnel worked on prior to the election included the following:
  • Pre-design and development of specifications for the ambulances
  • Obtained quotes for vehicles and equipment
  • Researched overall cost and expenditures for the ambulances
  • Solicited proposals from third-party billing agencies for billing services
  • Worked with the district’s physician advisor to ensure that ambulance service provided by the fire department was supported
  • Researched Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurance and private payer statistics for this area and demographics
  • Conducted wage analysis for paramedics

   In the weeks following the election, FFPD personnel have been busy putting plans into action. The process has already begun for hiring nine full-time firefighter/EMTs. With the passing of the mill levy increase, the district is able to accept a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This grant will partially fund the hiring of those nine firefighter/EMTs for three years. Without the mill levy increase, the district would have had to dip into reserve funds to maintain those positions. Voter approval of the mill levy increase will allow the district to fund its share of expenses under the SAFER grant without impacting its financial reserves.
   
   Fire district personnel have also been working on other tasks including the following:
  • Detailing out the new budget
  • Detailing the needs for the implementation of ambulance service and the hiring of an EMS supervisor position
  • Fine tuning billing needs
  • Researching ambulance compliance regulations and licensing

   The anticipated timeframe for putting the first ALS unit in service is late summer to fall of 2019.
   
   How to keep up with the FFPD
   In the weeks leading up to the election, postings on social media revealed that a number of residents did not know where to find information about the fire department.
   
   The FFPD offers a variety of ways for residents to stay informed.
  • The district website (http://falconfirepd.org): Financial and budget information; board meeting minutes; the district’s transparency notice; open burning information; safety tips; and more
  • Board of directors meetings: The Falcon FPD board usually meets at 4 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. All meetings are open to the public. The December meeting takes place a week earlier to meet statutory deadlines for the annual budget hearing. Changes in meeting schedules are posted on the district website as well as Falcon Fire Station 1, Station 3 and Station 4.
  • The New Falcon Herald: Every month, the NFH publishes a column from FFPD that covers various topics. The NFH also provides a summary of the previous month’s FFPD board meeting.
  • Social media: The Falcon Fire Protection District has accounts on Facebook (@FalconFireDepartment), Twitter (@FalconFireDept), and the NextDoor platform. Postings on these sites range from updates about emergency incidents to safety tips and other items of interest to our residents.
  • Contact FFPD: Call 719-495-4050 during normal business hours for administrative or general questions. This is NOT an emergency number. Always dial 911 for emergencies.

   Happy Holidays!
   The members of the Falcon Fire Department would like to wish everyone a safe, happy, and peaceful holiday season.
   
   Stay connected with the FFPD
   Website: http://www.falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
  
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  Safety Tip
  Be safe over the holidays
  By Robin Widmar

   The holidays are a favorite time of year for many. But it is also a season when distractions run high as people try to find perfect gifts, host houseguests and attend parties and gatherings. Unfortunately, distraction sometimes leads to catastrophe. According to the National Fire Protection Association:
  • Between 2011-2015, Christmas tree fires caused an average of six deaths, 16 injuries and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.
  • In 2014, the three leading dates for home structure fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.

   
   Here are some quick safety tips to ensure that the holidays stay merry and bright.
   
   Christmas trees
  • Keep live trees well-hydrated.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Remove trees promptly after the holidays.

   
   Holiday lighting
  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory such as UL.
  • Use lights as intended. Some are only meant for indoor use while others are specifically made for use outdoors.
  • Replace any light strings that are damaged, frayed or have loose bulb connections.

   
   Cooking
  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels) away from the stovetop.
  • Keep children and pets out of the kitchen while cooking.

   
   Batteries
  • Do not remove batteries from smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors to power holiday gifts.
  • Stock up on batteries ahead of time to ensure toys and electronics that require batteries can be enjoyed without disabling safety devices.
  • Dispose of batteries properly. Do not discard them in the trash.
  
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