Barbara Lawlor, Peak to Peak
One of the priorities of Timberline Fire Protection District’s Chief Chris Jennings has been to recognize the critical role that volunteers play in his district. He has purchased new state of the art engines, upped the training, and each year, he and the High Country Auxiliary have treated the firefighters, Board of Directors, retirees, and cadets to a dinner and awards ceremony.
In the old days, when Timberline consisted of High Country and Colorado Sierra departments, the HC event was held at Station 2, where tables would be set up in the bays and members would bring in potluck fare while John and Fran Etzkorn cooked steaks on a grill in the parking lot. Colorado Sierra held their awards presentation at Los Lagos Ranch, also a grill and potluck affair.
This is the third year that Timberline has celebrated its united districts and they have raised the party bar from engine bays and picnics to shirts and ties and tables glittering with water glasses and black linen.
The TFPD third annual awards dinner was held at the Isle Casino, in a private dining room where waiters in white shirts and black bow ties served the guests while local band Band on the Fence entertained the boisterous crowd. Leader of the band Alice Frisch is also a firefighter with Station 3 and she and the band donated their talent.
TFPD Chief Chris Jennings announced that there are three seats open for the Board of Directors in May and the district is seeking candidates. He then thanked all the firefighters for their service throughout the year.
Six new trucks, new training classes, new thermal imaging cameras, and the new Station 8 will be up and running in May: a lot to accomplish in one year, says Jennings, and a lot to be proud of.
During the September flood, TFPD was one of the few districts that had the ability to respond to emergencies. In the past year, Timberline went on just under 500 calls; the increase in service taxed the responders, but they are by nature non-complainers.
Jennings said, “I want to thank the mutual aid partners who went on standby for us when we needed it. This last three years has seen a change in Timberline’s relationship with other fire departments.” After asking all the retirees to stand and be recognized, Jennings said, “These men set the path that we started on years ago and we thank them and welcome them to this ceremony.”
This night is yours, Jennings told the gathered firefighters.
Firefighter Chip Smith said that Timberline and Nederland Fire Protection District joined forces in gathering six complete bunker gear assemblies to send to Honduras where TFPD firefighter Dave Hitchcock is assisting the volunteer fire department. High Country Auxiliary raised the money to pay for the shipping.
A list of training hours and response times were read, with John Carder logging in 192 training hours and 62 responses. Scott Duvall had 220, Ian Szymanski had 229 training hours and 119 responses, Dennis Whalen had 192 training hours and 119 responses, and Jerry Johnson had 217 training hours and 151 responses.
Assistant Chief Chris Schimanskey handed out the cadet awards saying that the class of 2013 was the largest ever. The five cadets participated in the Emergency Medical Responder program and went through a mock disaster at DIA in which they were flown in a medical helicopter.
Cadets Shyann Hartman, Skylar Pichon, Eric Hartman, Ian Hinderman, and Levi Beaudette were presented certificates and Hinderman and Beaudette were given Cadet of the Year certificates.
The students all received a letter of commendation from President Barack Obama for giving their all to a difficult task.
Retirees Ed Mahardy, Jim Larsen, Bob Eppinger and Dale White were honored for the time they had given the district.
The Rookie of the Year for 2013 was Scott Duvall for his eagerness and over 200 training hours. Chief Jennings named Station 6 the Station of the Year, consoling them for being the only station that did not get a new truck last year.
The Officer of the Year, the guy who was always under the radar but always there, was Galen Koepke.
The Chief’s Award was shared by Aaron Skeen and Chip Smith, both of them always giving the best they can.
The Firefighter of the Year was shared by two men who also won the award last year: Jerry Johnson and Dave Canfield.
After the presentations, the firefighters danced, discussed the past year, and maybe even walked through the Isle looking for a good slot.