by Carol Stevens
Gardner- Without much debate, board members agreed on a budget for Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District (UHFPD) for the 2009 calendar year. Since the restructure of the board, fire department and fire chief, these entities have found it easy to agree on items of significance. An amendment to the 2008 budget was passed to increase general fund capital expenditures by $9,000. Mill levies for 2009, were set at 4.866 mills with an abatement mill levy set at .827 mills. Under the restructure, UHFPD will only budget $76,000 in expenditures, with a considerably smaller sum being spent on administrative costs than in previous years. The approved budget allows more money to be spent on fire fighting and equipment. A $3,000 grant from Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) was approved.
Fire Chief Brian Sharp gave his monthly report which included the following items. He announced that he has received multiple applications from prospective firefighters, and these will be discussed at the January meeting. This month the department was involved with four calls, including a mutual aid call for the structure fire on 6th Street in Walsenburg. Also, Brush truck 503 was taken to the Craft Fair, held at the Gardner Community Center, and the new tender has arrived which will carry the GP303 number. Chief Sharp brought to the board an amended SOP regarding the point system, rather than pay, for the firefighters. Finally, Sharp announced that the Red Card training session will be held at the Huerfano County Community Center on Jan. 17 and 18, from 8 am to 5 pm and again Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 2009 from 1 to 9 pm. C. K. Morey will be instructing.
The board would like to restructure training into multiple tiers, rather than the current format. Chairman Steve Hodges thought it would benefit the department to have people trained for individual tasks. This may help bring in more volunteers from the community; for example, if they weren’t physically capable of fighting wild land fire, they could drive a fire truck or help with pumper operation. At the next meeting, members will discuss the possibility of scheduling a public forum to discuss fire department and community relations.