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"And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier's tomb, and beauty weeps the brave."
– Joseph Rodman Drake  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 5 May 2018  

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  FFPD December board meeting
  By Robin Widmar

   The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting Dec. 13. All directors were present. Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district, did not attend but was available by telephone.
   
   Treasurer’s report
   Fire Chief Trent Harwig reported that the fiscal year was 92 percent complete as of Nov. 30. The general fund had received 101 percent of anticipated revenue. Harwig said, “We are and will remain under budget” in the general fund, even with significant expenditures planned before the end of 2017. As a result, the budget will not need to be amended.
   
   Harwig noted that an increase in special ownership tax revenue, which is generated through vehicle registrations, was likely because of residents replacing a large number of hail-damaged vehicles.
   
   Incident statistics
   As of Nov. 30, FFPD had received 2,250 calls for service, which represented a 20 percent increase over the same period last year. The monthly call volume has been 200 or more since May 2017.
   
   Reserve standby hours
   Reserve firefighters logged 132 standby hours in November. One station was “browned out” for a half-shift on Thanksgiving when staffing coverage wasn’t available.
   
   Meridian Road/Highway 24 intersection
   In anticipation of work beginning in 2018 on the intersection of Old Meridian Road and U.S. Highway 24, Mountain View Electric Association performed a utility location at FFPD Fire Station 3. Relocation of the existing electrical pedestal will require an additional 20 feet of new service line.
   
   A county-owned alley runs between the Station 3 property and a residential property to the northwest. This alley was originally platted as part of the town site of Falcon. Since fire Station 3 was built right on the property line, the board discussed possible outcomes and options if the county decided to vacate the alley. Harwig will follow up on this item to see if the fire district can obtain the alley property since it is used primarily by the district.
   
   Deputy Chief Jeff Petersma has been exploring options for traffic signal controls for emergency apparatus. Director Dan Kupferer asked if a signal should be installed at the fire apparatus ramp on Old Meridian Road since drivers are ignoring the current signage and road markings. Harwig said the new intersection configuration would negate that need.
   
   Harwig said the 2018 budget includes replacement of the entire Station 3 parking lot. According to county plans, Old Meridian Road will be graded and lowered, and curbs and gutters will be installed. A development plan for the parking lot project is under way.
   
   2018 budget hearing
   The FFPD 2018 proposed budget includes items discussed at recent board meetings that support the following:
  • 18 emergency response vehicles and a new fire engine to be delivered in 2018
  • 24 paid full-time firefighter/EMTs
  • 10 paid part-time firefighter/EMTs
  • Full-time fire chief, deputy chief and administrative assistant
  • Part-time training captain and public information officer
  • 15 reservists (estimated)
  • Capital projects
  • Contributions to the volunteer pension fund
  • Operations, grounds, buildings and maintenance

   Harwig said three full-time firefighter/EMTs will be hired in May or June. Depending on what the budget looks like, three more could be added later in the year.
   
   The volunteer pension plan will be funded at $30,000 instead of the previous amount of $20,000.
   
   Harwig said he hopes that building and grounds maintenance will be less than it was in 2017. He also said vehicle maintenance costs should decrease when the new engine goes into service.
   
   The amount budgeted for truck-mounted equipment includes tools and equipment for the new engine as well as equipping a reserve engine.
   
   The training budget includes emergency medical technician classes for new reservists.
   
   The fire district will transfer $650,000 from the general fund to the capital projects fund. Anticipated expenditures from this fund include the annual Station 4 lease purchase payment; funding for sewer, water and parking lot improvements; the remaining balance on the new fire engine; and the remaining balance for new mobile data computers ordered in 2017.
   
   Harwig said the 2018 budget spends about $120,000 to $125,000 more than the anticipated revenue amount, but he feels it will be sustainable as adjustments are made throughout the budget year.
   
   The board approved resolutions to adopt the 2018 budget, appropriate sums of money to fund the budget, and set the mill levy at the existing 8.612 mills.
   
   The approved 2018 budget can be viewed on the FFPD website: http://falconfirepd.org
   
   Pay, leave and allowance schedule
   The board voted to approve the 2018 pay, leave and allowance schedule, which includes a 3 percent cost of living increase for current district employees. Part-time firefighter wages will increase to $12 an hour to reflect future minimum wage increases.
   
   TABOR election consultant
   The board directed the chief to invite a TABOR election consultant to make a presentation to the board at the January meeting. The consultant will provide information related to a potential mill levy increase to fund additional firefighters and an ambulance service, among other possibilities.
   
   Fire chief’s contract
   The board went into executive session to discuss Harwig’s contract.
  
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  Safety Tip
  Poor address markings can create delays
  By Robin Widmar

   Midnight in Falcon: A resident is experiencing severe chest pain and difficulty breathing. Someone calls 911. Firefighters and an ambulance crew immediately respond.
   
   They turn onto the resident’s street only to realize that the house numbers they were given don’t correspond to any of the numbers they can see. They quickly consult the dispatch center, knowing that every passing second can literally mean the difference between life and death.
   
   The dispatcher says, “The calling party says you already passed the house.”
   
   Emergency crews turn around, frustrated. The lack of clear address markings has cost them (and the patient) precious time. When they finally arrive at the right house, which did not have address markings at all, a family member asks, “What took you so long?”
   
   Unfortunately, this type of scenario is not uncommon in the rural areas of Falcon and other eastern plains communities. Emergency personnel work hard to learn the roads in their districts, and they have both digital mapping programs and good old-fashioned map books at their disposal. But these information tools do little good when address numbers are illegible, obscured by weeds or bushes, or are missing altogether.
   
   Here are some tips to help emergency responders:
  • House numbers should be clearly visible from the road at all times of day and in all weather conditions.
  • Numbers should be at least 3 inches high, reflective and visible from both directions on the road.
  • Numbers should be colored to contrast with their background.
  • Homes located on a shared driveway should have signs posted to indicate which house number belongs to each property. Use as many signs as necessary.
  • If the mailbox is not located next to the property’s driveway, install additional address numbers at the entrance.
  • Properties that are addressed on one street but accessible from a different street should have clear signage in both locations.

   Falcon firefighters ask residents to take a few minutes to ensure their addresses can be easily seen.
   
   One option: Residents of the Falcon Fire Protection District can take advantage of its address sign program. For a $20 donation, FFPD personnel will install a durable, all-weather address sign at a resident’s driveway entrance. (Note: The donation merely covers the cost of materials and installation of the address sign; the district does not make a profit.)
   
   To request an address sign, download a form at the FFPD website (http://falconfirepd.org) or pick one up from FFPD headquarters located at 7030 Old Meridian Road. Firefighters also carry these forms on their apparatus. Return the completed form and payment to FFPD headquarters in person or by mail. Once the sign is made, firefighters will install the sign at the property.
  
It is important to properly display home addresses so firefighters responding to emergencies can see them. Photo by Robin Widmar
 
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