Inter-Canyon Fire's Board of Directors voted unanimously July 17 to end the district’s Youth Patrol program because of concerns over inadequate supervision and insurance coverage in the event of an injury.
“These kids are put at risk, and we have no … way of supervising them (properly),” said Karl Firor, Inter-Canyon board treasurer.
The program, suspended indefinitely, had allowed youths ages 14 to 18 to participate in firefighter training and respond on select emergency calls. The board had restricted the program to training exercises since March, and had been involved in talks with parents and firefighters about the best way to sustain the program.
“My biggest problem is these are the penalties that exist now for exposing children to a hazardous environment,” said board member Ralph Dreher, adding that he felt the program must end.
In the meantime, a committee will continue to look for ways to restart the program with acceptable insurance and supervision.
Dreher, the board’s insurance adviser, said he did extensive research on the consequences the district would face if the patrol continued. He said he researched workers compensation laws and Colorado youth employment laws, and consulted with attorneys and insurance companies.
“It seems to me that, given the current climate of our district and our responsibility as a board for our taxpayers … it doesn’t sound like we can continue to make the program work,” said board member Kerry Prielipp, who was elected in May.
Board President Joe Marcus said his son was a patrol member.
“(My son) loved every minute of it,” Marcus said. “I’m proud of him for doing it and, knowing the risks, we were lucky nothing happened.”
Inter-Canyon Fire Chief Randy Simpson agreed with the board.
“I’m sitting here as a former patrol member, and I do not see a viable version of this moving forward,” Simpson said. Simpson’s son also served on the patrol.
The patrol started in 1958 to recruit future firefighters for Inter-Canyon. Since patrol members have been limited to training only, the program had seen a drop from 16 members to just six since March.
The next Inter-Canyon board meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at Inter-Canyon Station 1, 7939 S. Turkey Creek Road in Morrison. For more information, visit www.intercanyonfire.org.
Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or Daniel@evergreenco.com. Check ColumbineCourier.com for updates and breaking news. Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.