It is my pleasure to serve as Interim Fire Chief for the Donald Wescott Fire District. Our mission is to provide Quality Fire Suppression and Emergency Medical Treatment through quick, efficient and professional response. In my time here, I have found all our members to be dedicated and caring professionals protecting the approximately 11,000 residents of our district.
We staff two fire stations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have a minimum of seven career fire personnel on duty every day. Our volunteer firefighters assist with on-duty staffing and during larger incidents and emergencies. We cooperate regularly with the Tri Lakes Monument Fire District, the Black Forest Fire District, the Air Force Academy Fire Department and the City of Colorado Springs Fire Department. Our ambulance service is provided by American Medical Response. With the addition of a 3,500-gallon water tender in 2020 all properties in our district are eligible for an ISO Class 2 rating.
My major focus for the rest of the year will be to help the District consider unification with the Tri Lakes Monument Fire District. The Board of Directors of both districts have given direction to Chief Kovacs of Tri Lakes Monument and I to begin preliminary planning for this unification. If we are successful, our new fire agency will be the second largest in El Paso County. The services we can provide to the north-central part of the county will be more effective and more efficient than we can provide separately. It will also provide opportunities for our personnel that we cannot provide today.
The biggest winners will be the residents and businesses of both districts. I expect a formal decision to be made on unification in the fall of 2021.
I’ll close with observations on two important topics. First, the COVID pandemic is still affecting all our lives. The vaccines are giving us a path forward towards a return to normal. I urge you to get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Internally for our staff, the dropping infection rate is allowing us to reduce the restrictions that we’ve had in place for well over a year. However, you will stilll see us using special precautions on emergency responses, especially medical emergencies. Second, we are just entering the summer wildfire season. A large portion of our district is within the Wildland Urban Interface area (WUI). El Paso County has been severely impacted by major fires in recent years, Waldo Canyon in 2012 and Black Forest in 2013. Last year was the worst wildland fire year on record in Colorado. If you live in the WUI in the eastern portions of our district you can reduce your own risk by thinning and removing hazardous vegetation, using open flames carefully, including observing open burning restrictions when they are imposed, and being prepared to evacuate if a serious fire happens. Please check this website frequently for updated information on all District activities and new information on the unification effort. You can contact me at any time at email@example.com.