EDWARDS, Colorado - The Eagle River Fire Protection District honored employees, local law enforcement officers and a civilian during it inaugural awards ceremony.
Those honored included:
• Mikel "Pappy" Kerst was recognized for 22 years with the district and recently retired as battalion chief.
The first four firefighters on scene for Memorial Day's Chambertin fire in Avon were honored for cutting an exit passage for four of their fellow firefighters, who were searching for trapped occupants in one of the Chambertin units that was engulfed in flames and collapsing from underneath them.
• Avon Police Officer Bryan Mullet and Sgt. Bernie McGovern alerted building occupants of the Chambertin fire. Their heroism was marked on their uniforms that day, which had to be replaced because they were burned through from the smoke and flames.
• Lt. Alan Barry was honored for 25 years of service, and continues with the fire district. Barry, along with Lt. Josh Nagle and Lt. Ryan Riggins, were all co-recipients of the district's employee of the year award; these men were honored for their excellent service at the Beaver Creek Fire Station.
• A town of Minturn resident, Sage Pierson, also received accolades for alerting neighbors of a fire at their home during the early morning hours in Minturn and then fighting flames with a garden hose until Eagle River firefighters arrived minutes later.
The fire district is dealing with $1.8 million in budget cuts, resulting in rolling station closings and other cutbacks. They're asking voters to approve a property tax increase in next month's election to restore some of that funding.
"We are going through tumultuous times," District Fire Chief Karl Bauer said during the ceremony. "Our firefighters have continued to provide the highest level of fire protection and emergency service to our constituents. We are proud to honor them today. We are also thankful for the assistance that local agencies and residents provide our department."
The Eagle River Fire Protection District covers Camp Hale, Tennessee Pass, Redcliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Mountain Star, Wildridge, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Homestead, Edwards, Lake Creek, Singletree, Pilgrim Downs, Cordillera, Bellyache Ridge, Red Sky Ranch and the portions of Interstate 70, U.S. Highway 6 and 24.