Fire Chiefs Rank Training Center as #1 Priority
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A fire services study conducted several months ago outlined 13 recommendations for our local fire departments to tackle. This week, Mesa County fire chiefs met to rank which ones they believe are most important.
They almost unanimously ranked that getting a regional training center is the number one priority. At the bottom of the list was recommendations to consolidate different departments, like Grand Junction and Clifton.
The 11 Mesa County fire departments vary in size and needs.
Chief Kent Holsan with the Clifton Fire Department, said, "Everyone's got the same problems, just different magnitudes of them. And trying to make something fit for everybody is just hard to do."
However, they all agree they need a regional training center.
Grand Junction Fire Chief Kent Watkins said, "By having a consolidated spot that is built for training, it will be much safer and we'll be able to do much more realistic training than we do now."
The training center they envision would impact the entire Western Slope.
"Some departments have components of a training center, but what we're talking about is an area that would have a burn center, a tower [etc]." Watkins said.
"It would benefit, if we did it right, emergency agencies like fire, police, sheriff," said Holsan.
Out of the fire study recommendations, they all agree this is the most important and in their grasp,"Our plan this year is to apply for a large grant, a large state grant, and that would give us funding to at least build part of the center," Watkins said.
Watkins also said they currently have three possible locations for it.
On the other end of the spectrum, chiefs ranked consolidating fire departments last.
Watkins said, "When he recommended these consolidations, he recognizes this is a longer term process. So we will continue to look at that and decide whether that has merit."
"It's unfortunate, these consultants are hired to come up with suggestions, they just haven't come up with a way for money to get all these suggestions to work," said Holsan.
Fire Chiefs say this weeks ranking gives them a better idea of where they all stand and an action plan to take on in the upcoming months.