Roaring Fork Fire Rescue’s funding in place for new fire station at West Sopris Creek

Homeowners, state grant cover most of the expense

Roaring Fork Fire Rescue remodeled its Basalt station in 2017 and added four employee apartments that are rented out well below market rates. A new substation on West Sopris Creek Road will add three apartments.
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Roaring Fork Fire Rescue is adding a substation on West Sopris Creek Road with little or no financial contribution from taxpayers in its district.

Homeowners at Mount Sopris Ranch and surrounding areas approached the fire district about adding the substation a couple of years ago. They pledged $900,000 in donations and have raised $700,000 so far, according to Fire Chief Scott Thompson.

The fire district also received a $975,000 grant in 2019 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the project. It has been renewed the past two years. The funds come from the state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistant Funds.

The project was initially estimated to cost $1.8 million, but construction prices have soared in recent months. An updated estimate puts the cost at $2.1 million.

The Pitkin County commissioners pledged $150,000 at its meeting Tuesday to help cover the nearly $300,000 shortfall.

“We’re going to find the other $150,000 because we really want this fire station,” Thompson said.

The remaining funds will be found through private donations, potentially fire district reserves or the price will be further reduced through value engineering, according to Thompson.

The project is so desirable because it will include three apartments for volunteers or paid personnel with the fire district, Thompson said. Housing is a major tool for recruiting and retaining workers for the fire district. The remodel of the Basalt fire station in 2017 included four apartments.

“It’s a model that is working,” Thompson said.

The fire district would not have pursued the West Sopris project if housing wasn’t part of it, he said.

The fire substation will be built nearly 4 miles up the West Sopris Creek Valley, north of the road and across from Mount Sopris Ranch.

The West Sopris Creek Road residents want the substation to help them obtain fire insurance and help with rates.

“A lot of them have lost their insurance over the last five to 10 years,” Thompson said.

The area is rated as high-risk because it is more than 8 miles away from a fire station. The substation should help with reclassification. A four-wheel drive fire engine that is suited for wildland firefighting will be stored at the station along with an ambulance.

Another big benefit is having trained medical professional living in the area, Thompson said. The occupants of the three apartments won’t be assigned shifts in West Sopris Creek Valley but chances are one or more of them will be home at any given time, Thompson said, basing it on experiences at the Basalt station apartments.


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