Q. What kind of entity is Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District?
A. Colorado has thousands of small, local governments called “special districts.” Special districts serve a single purpose, such as fire protection, water and sanitation, hospital, and park and recreation services. Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District (SSAFPD) is one of several special districts in Routt County.
Q. What services does SSAFPD provide?
A. SSAFPD is authorized by Colorado law to provide fire suppression, fire protection and public education, rescue and extrication, hazardous materials, and ambulance and emergency medical services (Emergency Services).
Q. Who has financial oversight of SSAFPD and how are they elected?
A. An elected five-member board of directors is responsible for budget oversight, policy decisions, and generally ensuring SSAFPD is fulfilling its mission to provide adequate Emergency Services to our growing community in a cost-efficient manner. On the first Tuesday in May of odd years, voters within SSAFPD’s boundaries elect board members to four-year terms. The next board member election is in May 2025. For biographies and terms of service for each of SSAFPD’s directors see (Click Here) or select the Board Members tab on the home page.
Q. How does funding work for SSAFPD?
A. SSAFPD is funded almost exclusively through property tax revenue. Each year SSAFPD assesses a property tax – called a mill levy – on all taxable property within SSAFPD’s 380-mile jurisdictional service area. The amount of tax revenue SSAFPD receives each year is determined by multiplying SSAFPD’s mill levy by the assessed value of the taxable residential, commercial, and agricultural property within SSAFPD. The Routt County Treasurer collects the property tax revenue and distributes it to SSAFPD.
Q. What is the relationship between the City of Steamboat Springs and SSAFPD with respect to Emergency Services?
A. The City and SSAFPD have entered into a contract to jointly provide Emergency Services within the City and SSAFPD. The Emergency Services are provided through Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue (SSFR), which is operated by the City. SSFR is staffed with full-time paid Emergency Services personnel. The City and SSAFPD share in the costs of providing Emergency Services within their combined services areas. Among other things, the contract requires SSAFPD to pay a portion of SSFR’s annual operating budget based on call volume and assessed valuation of taxable property within SSAFPD’s service area. In recent years, the amount paid by SSAFPD is equal to 26.5% of SSFR’s annual budget. Also, according to the contract SSAFPD pays 33% and the City pays 66% of the cost of purchasing fire trucks, equipment, and other assets).
Q. Are firefighters and other Emergency Services personnel paid or volunteer?
A. Prior to the hiring of our first full-time paid firefighters in 2002, firefighting services were provided by volunteer firefighters who operated through the City. SSAFPD, which was then known as Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District, provided the ambulance and related emergency medical services. In the early 2000’s the City and SSAFPD combined their Emergency Services. Over the years SSFR has continued to hire more full-time firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. Today, SSFR has a professional team of 34 paid Emergency Services personnel and five administrative staff members who provide Emergency Services to our community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Q. How often does the Board meet?
A. Monthly board meetings – which are open to the public – are typically held at 5 pm on the third Monday of the month from January through November, and the second Monday in December. The meetings are held at Alpine Bank located at 1901 Pine Grove Rd, Suite 101, Steamboat Springs. The public is encouraged to attend – either in person or virtually via Webex. Agendas and meeting minutes are posted here (Click Here).
Q. What geographic territory does the SSAFPD cover?
A. SSAFPD’s 380-square miles service area stretches from Elk Mountain in the northwest to Walton Peak in the southwest. It includes Milner, Lake Catamount, and several other Routt County developments and landmarks. The 10 square miles of the City of Steamboat Springs is not part of SSAFPD. A map of SSAFPD’s service area can be found at (Click Here).
Q. Where are SSFR’s fire stations?
A. SSFR has two fire stations. The one we call the Mountain Fire Station is located at 2600 Pine Grove Road, Steamboat Springs – just south of the Tennis Center. The second fire station is located at 840 Yampa, Steamboat Springs, and houses additional fire apparatus. When the new station at 137 10th Street, Steamboat Springs opens in Fall of 2024, the 840 Yampa station/facility will be vacated and on duty staff and their equipment will be housed in the new fire station. When the new station opens, SSFR’s Emergency Services personnel will not have to run to a different building to answer calls. We also own a portion of a building called the ambulance barn, which is located at 911 Yampa Street, Steamboat Springs. A wildland brush truck is stored there and it is currently where full-time staff sleeps. The ambulance barn is currently owned by SSAFPD and Routt County Search and Rescue.
Q. Is Routt County Search and Rescue affiliated with the SSAFPD?
A. Routt County Search and Rescue operates under the Routt County Sheriff’s Office. They are independent of SSAFPD and SSFR, but they share ownership of the ambulance barn with SSFR and we partner when necessary.
Q. Is a fire station planned for Brown Ranch?
A. Yes. Yampa Valley Housing Authority has pledged to dedicate a parcel of Brown Ranch for a fire station. The exact location within Brown Ranch has not been finalized, nor has the date of construction.
Q. What are the unique challenges of providing Emergency Services in a growing mountain community like ours?
A. Recent dramatic increases in population growth and the increasing danger of wildfires combine to make providing Emergency Services in mountain communities more challenging than elsewhere in Colorado. A growing population and top-notch outdoor amenities mean more visitors, more part-time residents, and more users on the road. Rising costs of labor, equipment, and day-to-day operations require the City and the SSAFPD board to closely manage the SSFR budget. Routt County’s proximity to the “urban-wildland interface” makes us far more vulnerable to wildfires than other communities in Colorado. In the last two years alone, our personnel fought 24 wildfires and conducted 41 smoke investigations.
Q. Who responds to and pays for a wildfire call in Routt County?
A. There are five different fire protection districts in Routt County– each of which serves a separate portion of the County. In addition to these local fire protection districts, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (CDFPC), the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) each have their own firefighting personnel and equipment. Between these federal, state, and local providers, there are eight fire agencies that are capable of responding to wildfires in Routt County. When an emergency call comes in, the first responding agency typically is the fire protection district where the wildfire happens. Each of these agencies is a potential mutual aid resource to the other seven agencies. Depending on the size, severity, and location of the wildfire, SSAFPD will reach out to one or more of the other fire agencies for mutual aid. These eight fire agencies have a guiding operation plan that allows them to coordinate the work and cost of firefighting and other Emergency Services. Preparation and prevention are key to keeping the personnel and equipment of these agencies from getting too stretched.