Residents lobby Summit Fire & EMS to expedite Silverthorne fire station that is now planned to break ground this fall

Plans to break ground on the station come after months of public pressure from Silverthorne residents.

Crews with Summit Fire & EMS work to put out a house fire in Silverthorne on the morning of Dec. 10, 2022.
Summit Fire & EMS/Courtesy photo

Construction crews could break ground on a new Silverthorne Fire Station as soon as this fall, Summit Fire & EMS Chief Travis Davis said Tuesday, Jan. 17.

During the Summit Fire & EMS board meeting where Davis laid out plans for how the project will move forward, several Silverthorne residents spoke during public comment about the need to move expeditiously.

“I know people want this station built tomorrow,” Davis said. “But folks, it just doesn’t happen that way.”

Summit Fire & EMS operates four fully-staffed stations located in Dillon, Keystone, Frisco and at Copper Mountain — but does not have a station in Silverthorne. The lack of a station in Silverthorne has prompted some of town’s residents to raise concerns about response times of emergency services, especially when traffic is congested near Interstate 70.

Silverthorne resident Gaylene Bruskotter said during public comment that two recent fires — one in the Eagles Nest community and one north of Silverthorne near Heeney — highlight “how vital” the new station is to the community.

“The public is invested. The public is concerned,” Bruskotter said, “and the public is willing to do whatever it takes.”

A house fire ignited in Silverthorne on Dec. 10, 2022. The house, located at 1265 Golden Eagle Road, was under construction at the time of the incident.
William LaBahn/Courtesy photo

Davis said Summit Fire & EMS will post a request for proposals Monday seeking a contractor to complete the planning and construction of the new station. The contractor selected will oversee the entire project, he said, adding that as the project moves forward the total costs for the new station will come into clearer focus.

Summit Fire has dedicated about $4 million from its 2023 budget toward the new fire station and has plans to draw another $5 million from its capital reserve fund next year to dedicate toward the project, according to Steve Lispher, a spokesperson for the organization. Those funds are close to the estimated $8 million to $10 million total cost for the facility, Lipsher said in a phone interview after the meeting.

The new fire station will be constructed adjacent to the existing Silverthorne Public Works building on Colorado Highway 9, also known as Blue River Parkway, Lipsher said. That plot of land is directly across from Golden Eagle Road and the northern entrance to the Three Peaks neighborhood.

In the interim, while the station awaits construction, Summit Fire is also working on plans to park a reserve engine at Buffalo Mountain Storage. Davis said at the meeting that a contractor has been found to outfit the storage unit with the required heating, but that he didn’t have a timeline for when that would be completed.

Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland said that the town will hold a pre-application meeting, as required by town code, while the new fire station is out to bid. Hyland added that he hopes that the land-use review for the project will move at a brisk pace.

Hyland added that the town will help seek grants that could provide additional money to cover the costs of the project. He also offered to make town facilities available to the fire organization for surge capacity, if needed.

Silverthorne resident Jay Engeln during public comment shared a photo of a large cinder that he said fell on his house during the Dec. 10 fire at Eagles Nest. Engeln said he lives more than a quarter-mile away from where the fire happened. The cinder that fell on his roof demonstrates the importance of getting a Silverthorne station, he said.

Silverthorne resident Jay Engeln said this cinder fell on the roof his house when a nearby home under construction caught fire Dec. 10, 2022.
Jay Engeln/Courtesy photo

Another resident, Bill Sowers, said he lives just five houses away from where that Dec. 10 fire happened. While he said firefighters did a great job once they were on the scene, Sower raised concerns about response times.

“If this fire had been during the summer, we wouldn’t be here talking,” Sowers said. “There’d be a lot of homes missing.”

The fire board also briefly reviewed two options for staffing the new Silverthorne station once it is constructed and how staffing could affect the organization’s operating reserves.

The first option would be to staff three firefighter EMTs and three firefighter paramedics. Under that scenario, Summit Fire & EMS is projected to have just above 5 months of operating reserves by 2027.

The second staffing option is more robust but also more expensive. That scenario would staff a captain, two lieutenants, three engineers and three firefighter paramedics at the station, leaving just 2.6 months of operating reserves.

Davis noted that Summit Fire & EMS aims to have more than 3.3 months of operating reserves on hand at any given time. Lipsher explained after the meeting that state law mandates fire and EMS organizations have a minimum number of months worth of reserves to hold them over in the case of an extreme economic emergency.

“This is the furthest the station has ever been,” Davis said. “… We’re building it. There’s no turning back. So let’s keep going forward.”

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