Fire district volunteers crucial, hard to find

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Fire district volunteers crucial, hard to find

Durango Fire leans heavily on them; rural districts lose help
Fire districts by the numbers

La Plata County has four fire districts:
Durango Fire Protection District serves the area around Durango, south along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor to the New Mexico border and north into the Animas Valley to the top of Coal Bank Pass in an agreement with San Juan County. The district covers 325 square miles and serves an average of 40,000 people, including Fort Lewis College students and tourists. Its current roster is 186, including about 80 volunteers to answer 4,500 calls annually.
Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District serves about 2,000 people and 357 square miles on the western side of La Plata County. Its staff of two paid members and 14 volunteers answers 170 to 200 calls annually.
Upper Pine Fire Protection District covers the northeastern part of the county, serving Bayfield, Forest Lakes and Vallecito. Its 33 full-time and three part-time positions cover about 352 square miles, serve about 6,000 people and answer about 800 calls annually.
Los Pinos Fire Protective District covers the southeastern part of the county, including Ignacio. Its staff of 20 full-time and seven part-time employees serves about 8,000 people, answering about 1,000 calls annually. The district covers about 325 square miles.

Fire district volunteers crucial, hard to find

Volunteer firefighters with the Durango Fire Protection District practice stabilizing vehicles and extracting occupants during a training exercise at the Basin Towing & Repair yard. DFPD holds volunteer trainings, mostly hands-on, every Tuesday night. “Things are changing all the time,” fire training Capt. Steve Gallagher said, “so we have to learn new techniques and how to use new equipment all the time.”
A volunteer firefighter with the Durango Fire Protection District uses a cutter during a training exercise at the Basin Towing & Repair yard. Part of the training is learning what tools need to be used with different vehicles, fire training Capt. Steve Gallagher said.
Brandon Clark was one of about two dozen volunteer firefighters with the Durango Fire Protection District training in vehicle rescues at the Basin Towing & Repair yard. Basin dedicated a large part of its yard and 60 vehicles for DFPD to train career and volunteer firefighters.
From left: Max Thurston, Jason Jeep and Ted Hermesman, volunteer firefighters with the Durango Fire Protection District, stabilize a wrecked vehicle during a training exercise at the Basin Towing & Repair yard.
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