Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Gypsum fire proposal |

Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Gypsum fire proposal

I’m writing to urge you to vote yes on GFPD A, to support the Gypsum Fire Protection District. Gypsum Fire has a long, illustrious history of volunteerism that has sustained it in the past — but the past circumstances were very different than those of today. Volunteerism is declining across the country and our district is no different. While the district has many dedicated volunteers who give all the time they possibly can, these men and women still have jobs to work (sometimes multiple) and families to spend time with. They simply do not have more time to give. Additionally, most work outside the district, which means they are unavailable for callback for large incidents.

The costs of equipping and training volunteers have also risen. Gone are the days of giving a firefighter a pager and a tour of the station and dubbing them a firefighter. Training, education, protective gear and communications equipment costs a lot more than you would think — about $17,500 per volunteer.

For these and several other reasons, the district is trying to hire at least one more person to help improve staffing levels. Currently, minimum staffing is one paid firefighter on duty for the entire 455-square-mile district. Do you want your call for help to be the second in line if that firefighter happens to be busy on another call? The district currently employs four full-time paid firefighters, including the chief, and six part-time firefighters who each cover one day per week. These employees must cover 24 hours per day, seven days per week — every week. It is not enough. The national standard is four firefighters per truck (this is the standard insurance companies also use when computing insurance rates).

The district has been here for Gypsum since 1911. They have served faithfully all that time, doing the best they can with what they have. It is time for the community to support them, so they can continue serving us in our times of need. The tax increase, if passed, will amount to less than $90 per year for the average homeowner. I think it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone is always there to help.

Jennifer Kirkland

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