Wildfire preparedness has become an increasingly important topic as cities like Fort Collins balloon into the foothills. To promote more wildfire awareness, mitigation and prevention, the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department is hosting an Open Firehouse on Saturday, May 7.
The Open Firehouse will take place at RCVFD Station 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Station 1 is located at 11835 Rist Canyon Road. As parking is limited to the sides of that busy road, carpooling is encouraged.
Along with refreshments and music, plans for the Open Firehouse include a visit from Smokey Bear, a display of wildfire equipment, and a demonstration garden of fire-resistant plants. In addition, easily visible home-address number signs will be available, along with evacuation information for residents and pets. Children under age 12 will receive Smokey Bear activity books.
“The Open Firehouse will also provide an opportunity for the community to meet our volunteer firefighters, who will be handing out wildfire safety information,” said RCVFD firefighter Laurie Smeltzer-Franklin. “We want to encourage residents to work with us towards a ‘Firewise Community’ designation.”
The goal of a Firewise Community is to reduce the loss of lives, property and natural resources by encouraging people to build and maintain communities with safer home construction and design, landscaping, and maintenance.
The RCVFD Open Firehouse will be held on the 2016 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, and is funded by a $500 grant sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association in partnership with State Farm Insurance Co. RCVFD received the grant thanks to the efforts of Smeltzer-Franklin and votes from the Rist Canyon community.
The Open Firehouse is also an opportunity to donate to the RCVFD. The all-volunteer fire department is a nonprofit corporation supported 100 percent by donations from the community.
In June 2012, the RCVFD service area was devastated by the month-long High Park Fire that burned more than 87,000 acres, destroyed 259 homes and killed one person. RCVFD responders and firefighters were on the fire lines every day, assisted by other local, state and federal agencies.
Currently, RCVFD responds to between 50 and 100 fire, rescue and emergency/medical calls per year. The service area has grown to 110 square miles, compared to 38 square miles when the department was formed in 1975.
But RCVFD firefighters say the challenges remain the same: steep terrain, dirt roads, long distances, diverse topography and lack of water. And without a hydrant system, the RCVFD still follows the practice from 40 years ago—using water from ponds, lakes and streams.
Donations can also be made through PayPal or at RCVFD.org, or sent to the RCVFD Treasurer, P.O. Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80512.