Colo. FD ready to unveil state-of-the-art firehouse
Canon City’s nearly $12M multi-functional firehouse will help reduce response times
By Carie Canterbury
CANON CITY, Colo. — Cañon City Area Fire Protection District’s shiny new Headquarters & Fire Station No. 3 is state-of-the-art, contemporary and, frankly, a long-time coming.
What personnel and administrators value most, they say, is its functionality.
The new nearly $12 million facility, located at 3016 E. Main St., officially began taking calls on July 31.
“It came out fantastic, really, the station itself,” said Chief David DelVecchio. “We tried to be as cost-effective as possible, but I think the station — functionality-wise — is going to be great for us, the admin side, the training room, the meeting room, those are all things we really needed to be successful as a fire district here in the community.”
Assistant Chief Scott Johnson likes the more modern training facility.
“We found the space that we never had,” he said.
Being more on the eastern side of town also is a benefit to firefighters and the community.
Call times to the busy Dozier, Justice Center Road and Fourmile Parkway areas are greatly decreased with the station closer, by as much as more than 10 minutes.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Paramedic Firefighter Nate Brantley, who is the Union President. “It needed to happen, at least getting a station out on this end of town.”
The training facility will enhance preparedness and readiness, he said.
“Growing at your job is going to increase exponentially, especially with the training facility,” Brantley said.
The new facility is divided into four parts: an administrative section with offices and a conference room, a living quarters with a day room and bunkrooms, a classroom and training facility and the apparatus bay.
The building entrance is large and welcoming and has a private area for blood pressure checks. DelVecchio said community members can stop by the station anytime to have their blood pressure taken for free. A log is kept for residents to compare their past numbers or to take with them to a doctor’s appointment.
The multi-purpose training facility, which includes a four-story burn building and classroom already has been put to use by a recent recruit class of 12 that graduated on July 21 after a 12-week training.
“The thing I like about it is it’s functional,” said Lt. Shane Roberts. “In addition to being a nice facility with being all new, it’s well thought out to accommodate how we all operate.”
The need for Station No. 3 has been discussed for more than 40 years. The issue was looked at twice in the 1990s, twice in the early 2000s and again in 2013, but the funding never came through.
The last mill levy ballot question in 2018 was approved by voters, allowing for more firefighters and a new, long-awaited station.
The department is at full staffing for what it has budgeted for, although it still could use a few more positions, DelVecchio said.
The call volume continues to increase, and the department responded to 4,114 calls for service in 2022.
“We have been increasing steadily, at least 5-6 percent a year, some years we had 12 percent increases,” DelVecchio said. “Since prior to this recent hiring, to what our staffing was in 2006, we’ve increased our call volume by 76 percent.”
The new station project and increased staffing have helped with the improved Insurance Services Office rating.
The rating is a score provided to fire departments and insurance companies by the ISO and reflects how prepared a community and area are for fires.
After a review of the new station, staffing and engine company, the department’s ISO rating dropped from a 3 to a 2, with a 1 being the best rating.
“If you look at all of the fire departments in the country — there are about 40,000 that they rate — and only 5% have a 2 rating,” DelVecchio said. “For the community, most insurance carriers use the ISO ratings when they assess their insurance in the areas, so the insurance premiums are somewhat driven by what that ISO rating is.”
Some larger companies use their own systems, he said, but the majority use the ISO rating.
“It won’t be a substantial decrease, but you could see a 3-4 percent decrease in premiums,” he said.
The community is invited to an open house and ribbon cutting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event will kick off with an opening/dedication ceremony, a hose uncoupling, and a new truck christening.
Meet firefighters, take a tour, watch demonstrations and enjoy refreshments. Children can take part in a fire fit challenge and more.