Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Boulder Rural fire, city propose agreement

 

October 13, 2017



The Boulder Rural Fire Protection District and the City of Boulder are working on a way to bring services together for the two organizations.

Members of the board of directors for BRFPD have been meeting with the City of Boulder in an effort to do what they say primarily concerns providing better service.

“We are trying to look at options on our best way to improve services to our citizens and we have identified various ways that that might happen,” BRFPD Chief Bruce Mygatt said. “One of them is the City of Boulder.”

There has been a lot of talk about what exactly is going on, some speculation that there will be a merger between the two, or an inter-agency agreement of sorts.

Mygatt said this is not the case, that BRFPD is actually looking to contract services through the city. The meetings over the last six months have been working on that contract.

It would involve the City of Boulder taking over operations and services, including ambulance. Also in the contract would be prevention, training and public education.

“It’s very important to point out that this has nothing to do with municipalization or annexation, it is strictly a better way to provide emergency services,” Mygatt said. “We’ve been in these discussions for six months and we continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss the components of the contract.

“As of now, we still have not seen a number on what that contract might be. Our goal is to achieve and try to work towards a contract number as soon as we can, because obviously that’s what is going to make or break this deal.”

Doug Engle, a Gunbarrel resident and volunteer firefighter for 10 years with BRFR, said that there seems to be more going on that neither the board nor the city are discussing openly.

“What it appears to basically be is handing over the keys of our Boulder Rural Fire to the City of Boulder,” Engle said.

With Mygatt set to retire in January of next year — something the board has known about since earlier this year — Engle pointed out that they have not put the position open nor hired a recruiting firm to replace Mygatt.

Engle said this contract only would work if all firefighters became city employees.

“There’s an issue there,” Engle said. “They could lose pensions, pay structures change, potentially lose seniority. There are a lot of issues that follow along from a firefighter perspective.”

Mygatt said that with the contract, it is likely that Boulder Fire Station 6 would move into the BRFPD location near Gunbarrel that is already shared with the Colorado Highway Patrol. The building has plenty of space, he said, and the city might even end up leasing some of the space not currently being used.

“Boulder Rural Fire Protection District is not going to change in any way in this process,” Mygatt said. “They would remain in ownership of this building and can do whatever they want with it.”

Ambulance services are another issue. The city currently contracts for those services, as does BRFPD.

Engle said that while the board states ambulances as yet another reason to go into the inter-agency agreement with the city, it still doesn’t explain why they recently built a new station closer to the majority of their calls.

He added that the board has stated concerns that the district would run out of funding before the next mill levy opportunity in 2024.

“I personally believe that they have an agenda to get this done and that they’re telling the public ‘just enough,’” Engle said. “As for the firefighters themselves, these guys are terrified to speak because they’re afraid of losing their jobs.”

Mygatt said that finances are not part of the reason why the board is looking to contract services, rather to improve them.

With the contract, BRFPD would have fire-based advanced life support, meaning that the EMT’s are also trained firefighters, adding two more to any scene where the ambulance is present.

“Our most important asset is our firefighters, our people,” Mygatt said. “We want to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to ensure their livelihood and well-being are taken care of. That’s something that the board needs to consider. It’s a very important part of the discussion.”

The next scheduled meeting for BRFR is set for 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the station located at 6230 Lookout Road.

 

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