New Rist Canyon Fire Station helps residents to heal

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A new firehouse can be cause for celebration, but northwest of Fort Collins, the new
Fire Station No. 1 also marks a turning point. Nearly two years ago, the High Park
Fire ravaged Rist Canyon and surrounding communities, destroying 259 homes and
burning more than 87,000 acres.

But this is not a story about grim statistics. Rather, it is about the resiliency and
determination of Rist Canyon residents to restore a sense of normalcy to the area.
The Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department has received its Certificate
of Occupancy for Station No. 1, located at 11821 Rist Canyon Road. Through the
generosity of donations after the High Park Fire in June 2012, the RCVFD was able
to replace the old fire station, which became too small and outdated for modern firefighting vehicles and equipment. Fire Station #4, which was destroyed in
the fire, also is being rebuilt.

“With the donations after the fire, we decided to rebuild Station No. 1 instead of
renovating the existing one,” RCVFD Fire Chief Bob Gann said. “We had just
outgrown our old building. With this new station, we’re also much more effective
with our firefighter training. We have more space to accommodate our bigger crew.”
Construction began in spring 2013 and continued throughout the winter. Because
fire vehicles cannot be left outside in freezing temperatures, Gann said five
trucks were disbursed in the area until the station’s completion.

“With the trucks in different locations, we had some very short response times,” Gann mused. “If there was an incident, we might have a truck right next door.”

RCVFD Treasurer Richard Lund said that the department has spent approximately
$329,000 on the construction to date. However, without the overwhelming response
of donated materials and volunteer labor, the cost might have been double. “We
couldn’t have done this without the generosity of our residents and others,” he

Gann echoed such sentiments. “We received incredible encouragement from the
community from the very beginning,” he said. “Everyone was right behind us with
their support.”

The High Park Fire was caused by a lightning strike to a tree in Roosevelt National
Forest. First reported as a smoke column on the morning of June 9, 2012, the fire
both intensified and spread rapidly. An evacuation was called and lasted 21 days.
One woman was killed. The High Park Fire was not declared 100 percent contained
until June 30, 2012.

RCVFD was started in 1975 and served about 30 acres. Today, RCVFD provides
service to an area of more than 100-square miles. The organization is funded 100 percent by donations and is staffed solely by volunteers. The department’s main fund-raising
event is their annual Mountain Festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 31.
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