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When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
– Henry Ford  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 5 May 2020  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Letters to the Editor   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News Briefs   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Adoption Corner   None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  FFPD approves $18 million budget for 2020
  By Pete Gawda

   Approval of the budget for 2020 was a major item on the agenda of the Dec. 11 meeting of the Falcon Fire Protection District Board of Directors. Board member Joan Hathcock came in late because of a previous meeting. Corey Galicia was present via conference call. All other board members were present.
   The 2020 budget
   The board approved an $18 million budget for 2020. This budget is comprised of four separate budgets: the general fund, capital projects fund, ambulance transfer fund and rural water system fund.
   The 2020 general fund budget is $10.7 million. Revenues for this fund come, in part, from fees, donations, reimbursements, volunteer pension state matching funds and grants. However, the largest source of revenue is taxes. While the mil levy on appraised property values remains the same at 14.886, revenues from taxes are expected to increase from an estimated $6.4 million in 2019 to $7.5 million because of increased property values. The general fund is used for administration, operations, maintenance, training and fire prevention and safety.
   The 2020 general fund budget is up from an estimated $9.2 million in 2019. This is due, in part, to an increased number of employees, resulting in increased salaries, benefits and insurance. The capital projects fund budget is up from an estimated $2.8 million in 2019 to $4.8 million in 2020. The increase is due, in part, to the planned construction of an administration building in 2020 and the purchase of a third ambulance. Revenues from this fund come from things such as transfers from the general fund and from the ambulance transfer fund, interest, lease purchase revenue, dividend income and capital sales. The ambulance transport fund budget is $2.4 million. Revenues for this fund come from transport fees, prior year collections, grants, transfers from the general fund and deposit interest. An estimated $1.1 million was expended in 2019 to start the ambulance service. The rural water system fund was originally funded by developers to build cisterns in areas that did not have water systems. Builders are no longer required to do this, so this fund is being used to maintain existing cisterns until it is depleted. There is currently $14,500 remaining in the fund.
   Treasurer's report
   At the end of November, the year was 92 percent complete and expenditures in all areas were under budgeted amounts, said Chief Trent Harwig.
   Chief's report
   In the first 11 days of ambulance service, Harwig said the district was averaging three transports a day. So far, no mutual aid had been requested. He said that Station 1 housed the busiest ambulance. A third ambulance will be purchased sometime in January.
   Harwig also said promotions from within for battalion chief would open up other positions for advancement. During November, there were 409 reserve standby hours.
   Administration building
   The chief sent out four requests to contractors for preliminary pricing. He received three replies, ranging from $1 million to $1.3 million. He said Hammers Construction Company offered some changes to the preliminary plans that could lower the cost. After extended discussion, the board decided to call a special meeting for Dec. 18 to further discuss the administration building.
   Meeting dates for the new year
   The board approved meetings dates for the new year. Meetings will be on the third Wednesday of each month except the December meeting, which will be on the second Wednesday. Pension board meetings will be held in conjunction with the August and November board meetings.
Attending the Dec. 11 meeting of the Falcon Fire Protection District Board of Directors were, left to right, attorney Joan Fritsche, board members Tom Kerby, Dan Kupferer, Mike Collins, Joan Hathcock and fire chief Trent Harwig. Photo by Pete Gawda
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  FFPD scraps admin building for new fire station
  By Pete Gawda

   After months of discussing a new administration building, having preliminary plans drawn up, and having the architect attend a meeting to answer questions; the Falcon Fire Protection Board of Directors, in a special meeting Dec. 18, decided not to move forward with the building. Instead, they decided to build a new fire station to replace Station 3, located at the intersection of Old Meridian Road and Highway 24, and remodel Station 3 to serve as an administration building.
   All board members were present except Cory Galicia, who attended via conference call.
   The meeting began with a discussion of the details for the proposed 6,000-square-foot administration building. The conversation then turned toward building a new fire station instead. Fire Chief Trent Harwig thought there would be enough money in the budget to build a new fire station.
   “I definitely think that (a new fire station) would meet our needs sooner,” said Dan Kupferer, board president.
   “It is all about the firemen,” said board member Joan Hathcock.
   “I like it,” said board member Galicia, via conference call.
   The board decided to use the plans for Station 4 and modify them as necessary. The new station would be built on the same parcel of land where the current Station 3 stands. They discussed how a new station would best fit on the fire station property, and provide access to the intersection of Highway 24 and Old Meridian Road.
   It was suggested that the front of the current Station 3 could be rebuilt and the bay area turned into a community meeting room.
   Harwig will inform the architect of the change in plans and talk to Hammer Construction Co. about the cost.
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  Smooth start to ambulance service
  By Pete Gawda

   The residents of Falcon got a welcome early Christmas present when the Falcon Fire Protection District began operating its own ambulance service Dec. 1 under the Emergency Medical Services Division, with Chief Jon Webb at the helm.
   Webb, with 27 years of experience, was hired in June 2019 to start up the ambulance service. He began his career in 1992 in Marin County, California, as a firefighter/emergency medical technician. In 1996, he moved to Montana where he graduated from Montana State University with a paramedic certificate. While still in school, Webb started working for American Medical Response ambulance service in Billings, Montana. He moved to Colorado Springs in 2001 and continued to work for AMR. Webb is also a hospital corpsman in the Navy reserves.
   The department recently purchased two new ambulances, one based at Station 1 on Meridian Ranch Road and the other at Station 4 on Capital Drive, north of Constitution Avenue. Each ambulance is staffed with one paramedic and one EMT. The department currently has 10 paramedics. In contrast to EMTs, who only require six months training, paramedics undergo a more extensive two-year training course. All department firefighters are certified as EMTs.
   Most of the department's paramedics came from AMR while the EMTs in the ambulance service came from within the department. In January, the district plans to purchase a third ambulance that will be based at Station 3; they will hire three more paramedics to staff it. The third ambulance should be operational by March.
   From Dec 1 until Dec 18, the ambulance service handled 46 patients with a variety of medical issues, including falls, sickness, cardiac problems and auto accidents. Webb said response times are much quicker since the district ambulance service began Dec. 1.
   Webb said the department will be working out rural aid agreements to assist neighboring fire departments with ambulance calls.
Jon Webb heads up the newly inaugurated ambulance service for the Falcon Fire Protection District. Photo by Pete Gawda
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  Firefighter safety tip
  Falcon firefighter: from retail to firefighting
  By Pete Gawda

   Editor’s note: Each month, the NFH will ask a Falcon, Peyton or Black Forest firefighter for a safety tip, along with providing a brief background on each firefighter.
   Becoming a firefighter was a long-held passion of Falcon Fire Protection District firefighter John Gue, who delivers this month's fire safety tip.
   As a child, he often visited his grandparents who lived near Colorado Springs Fire Station 8. “One day, I will be a firefighter at Station 8,” Gue told his grandfather. However, as Allen Saunders of Publishers' Syndicate once said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.” That is what happened with Gue. Life took him in another direction. He received a business degree and was in the retail business for 14 years. He went back to school, received a master’s of business administration and started a business that didn’t pan out. So, he became a heating, ventilating and air conditioning technician; he worked at that trade for three years.
   Since he had been a resident of Meridian Ranch for several years, he applied to become a volunteer firefighter. In 2018, he became a volunteer and a few months later a full-time firefighter.
   Gue is married with two children. When he is not on duty at the fire station, he is involved with after-school sports. His daughter swims and his son plays hockey.
   This month's fire safety tip: Clear any combustible material 3 feet away from any type of heater and use CO2 and smoke detectors.
Falcon Fire Protection District driver/operator John Gue has a varied background that includes a career in retail, entrepreneurship and HVAC. Photo by Pete Gawda
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