The Cortez Fire Protection District has transitioned to a two-chief system, will fill a vacant board seat and conduct bus crash training.
Following the retirement of former Chief Jay Balfour, the district decided on a new approach to improve operational efficiency.
To spread out the workload the district named Charlie Borden as Chief of Operations and Matt Shethar as Chief of Administration during the Dec. 14 board meeting.
Borden will conduct daily supervision of crews, lead emergency response calls, oversee fleet and equipment maintenance, manage training programs and schedule fire crews.
Shethar will be responsible for managing the district’s annual operating budget, human resources, administration, grant writing and the district’s wildland fire program. He will also have firefighting duties when needed.
“Under the single chief model, it is difficult to handle all the administration duties and budget while at the same time managing 28 employees, equipment maintenance and training,” Shethar said. “The two-chief model allows for more of a team approach where we work together on management decisions rather than just one person taking all that on.”
The new system will be evaluated annually on its effectiveness.
The positions were filled from within the ranks during a promotion ceremony attended by family and firefighters.
Shethar and Borden were promoted to chief positions. Rick Spencer was promoted to serve as battalion chief, previously held by Borden.
Firefighters Monroe Ivy and Cory Elliot were promoted to engineer positions.
The CFPD board will consider the appointment of Gary “Joe” Stevens to the board at the Jan. 11 meeting. He would replace Leroy Roberts, who recently resigned.
Stevens would serve the remaining of Roberts’ three-year term, which ends in April.
In May, two board positions will be open. President Drew Buffington’s term is up, as well as the term for the appointee filling Robert’s seat. The district is seeking candidates for upcoming open board positions.
Interested persons need to fill out a self nomination form from the district office by Feb. 24 and should attend a board meeting to introduce themselves. Board meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month 6 p.m. at Fire Station No. 1 at 31 N. Washington Street in Cortez.
If there are more candidates than available board positions, an election will be held in May 2.
The current board is made up of President Drew Buffington, Brad Ray, Les Rogers and Darrell Dennison.
The board is considering a preliminary request by the Piñon Project to lease or purchase the old fire station on North Ash Street for use as a new youth center.
The idea was to have youth counselor offices upstairs and a gymnasium on the ground floor.
The board expressed support for the idea and suggested either a 3-5 year lease to the Piñon Project or selling the building to them.
The 4,000 square-foot station is not essential for district operations and is only used for some storage. The Piñon Project’s main offices are located next door.
This spring, the fire district is planning to conduct a communitywide training for school bus rescues.
The RE-1 School District has donated three old buses to the fire district that no longer run, Shethar said.
The buses will be used to simulate a rescue of people trapped inside after a crash. Expert instructors will be brought in to lead the exercise. Thirty personnel from area fire districts are expected to participate.
“A bus crash is low probability but high consequence,” Shethar said. “In the event it does happen, we want to be prepared as we can be and practice up on it.”
Training will involve extrication, cutting through the roof, access of emergency exits, patient removal and coordination with area first responders.