Fire services present possible changes

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) – After three public meetings and a public survey, the results are in, and fire services in Mesa County now have your recommendations on how to better serve the community.

The study has been in the works for more than three months now after the Mesa County Fire Chief's Association met with a consulting firm to try to figure out how the different fire districts can work together to meet the communities needs.

Tuesday evening, community members and ten fire departments in Mesa County heard the final recommendations to improve services.

"I would like to see a county fire marshal who has the ability and the authority to go to a gas station, let's say, out in Gateway or some place, and say your tanks are out of date, they need to be replaced," retired firefighter Ted Boothroyd said.

Boorthroyd even brought his own list to the presentation with ideas for improvements.

“I've not in my career, seen a town this size-- a community this size-- that doesn't have a substantial, modern, training tower," Boothroyd said.

Boothroyd isn't alone, as improving training was one of the big recommendations Matrix Consulting found in their fire services study.

"Having an annual training plan where all the agencies are training on the same types of topics so they can respond equally in the event of an emergency," Robert Finn from the Matrix Consulting Group said.

Another major recommendation was partnering different departments to extend service.

"They've recommended East Orchard Mesa and Palisade would be a good partnership, then Grand Junction and Clifton,” Fire Chief's Association President Ken Watkins said.

Watkins said East Orchard Mesa and Palisade would partner because of call volume, in an effort to save taxpayer dollars. Clifton and Grand Junction would partner in hopes of building a new fire station in the Pear Park area.

"If that's the case and we are successful in putting that, it makes more sense that we partner together in that fire station, whether that means joint construction all the way up to joint staffing the station," Watkins said.

Officials said public opinion and feedback were key in making the recommendations.

"Both in terms of the public meetings in allowing public input as we were bringing out ideas of different things we were considering, all the way to an online survey that was responded to by over 600 members of the public," Finn said.

Many people brought up response times and the importance of making fire services cost effective. Fire officials said fire departments will be working to improve those response times and sharing costs between different departments.

The consultant took the survey and used it to find areas for each individual fire department to work on, as well as what the county fire services can do as a whole.

Tuesday also gave fire services a chance to tell the public what they are doing right. One of the highlights was the fact that a county fire chief's association even exists as they work together for fire safety.

Another achievement was putting every fire department in Mesa County under the same radio station.

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