Donations not keeping pace with demands on Rist Canyon VFD

Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, Dec. 6, and the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department is asking its residents to step up and help. Because RCVFD is an unusual department. And it’s facing an unusual dilemma.

RCVFD is unusual in that it’s still 100 percent donation funded, receiving no tax money. Many rural departments, faced with rising costs and decreasing funds, are supported by property taxes collected within fire protection districts. RCVFD has been community-funded and all-volunteer since its formation in 1975, and the chief and firefighters want to keep it that way.

The dilemma is that the department’s fierce commitment to serving its community has been coupled with increasing responsibilities and an expanding population. In 1975, RCVFD provided fire protection to some 38-square miles. Today, the department responds to fire, medical, motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies in a 150-square-mile area, not including an additional 70-square miles under mutual-aid agreements.

“This has already been a record-breaking year,” said Chief Carol Dollard at the Nov. 5 annual meeting of the RCVFD. “We’ve have 70 calls so far this year, and we normally have 60 in an entire year.”

Community support, however, has not kept pace. Annual donations are down this year, and the department is — forgive the pun — continually “in the red.” The problem has not necessarily been the amount of donations; rather, too few people contribute to the very responders who would be there first in an emergency.

RCVFD area representative Louise Creager compiled and submitted the RCVFD application for Colorado Gives Day. For the seventh year, Community First Foundation and FirstBank have partnered to host the campaign to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. The $1 Million Incentive Fund is one of the largest gives-day incentive funds in the country.

About 50 people attended the annual meeting at Stove Prairie School, which concluded with the election of board members. Outgoing president Mike Thompson was recognized for his decade of leadership and steady guidance through the Crystal Fire, High Park Fire, 2013 flood and rebuilding of Station 4.

For 2017, RCVFD board members are: Dale Snyder, president; Jennifer Nolte, 1st vice president; Carol Dollard, fire chief and 2nd vice president; Richard Lund, treasurer; Bridget Tisthammer, Ristwatch editor; Leisa Taylor, secretary; Louise Creager, Stratton Park area representative; Karen Steadman, Stove Prairie area representative; Brian Finley, Whale Rock area representative; Deb Pedersen, Davis Ranch area representative; Juana Jackson, Rist Canyon area representative; and Thomas Handley, Buckhorn Road area representative.

For more information or to donate via the website, visit rcvfd.org. Donations are tax-deductible and also may be made by PayPal or mailed to RCVFD Treasurer, P.O. Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80512. For Amazon purchasers, RCVFD is registered with the Amazon Smile Program. When Amazon users choose RCVFD as their non-profit organization, the Amazon Foundation donates 0.5 percent of the purchase price to the fire department.

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