South Metro Fire to cover portions of South Jeffco starting in 2019

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By Deborah Swearingen

In response to massive growth in the south metro area, Littleton Fire Protection District, which includes a portion of South Jeffco, is set to include South Metro Fire Rescue at the start of 2019.

Currently, Littleton Fire covers a small chunk of South Jeffco, including Chatfield State Park and Clement Park. The fire protection district held an election in May in which voters agreed to include with South Metro. Service officially begins in January. The City of Littleton is scheduled to become a fire authority member at that time as well, and Littleton voters approved inclusion in Tuesday’s election.

South Metro also is on its way to providing service for Lockheed Martin’s South Jeffco campus as well as the Meadowbrook Fairview Metropolitan District, which includes much of the area north of Chatfield State Park, west of South Pierce Street and south of West Bowles Avenue. Contracted services for both will begin in 2019 with Lockheed Martin seeing full inclusion by 2022 and Meadowbrook Fairview voters facing a ballot question regarding the matter in the May 2019 election.

“The south metro area has really changed quite a bit. Some of that very, very recently,” said South Metro Deputy Fire Chief Michael Dell’Orfano, who also serves as an assistant chief of government affairs. “ … As a fire service, we’ve had to react to that.

“We start to feel those pinch points where, maybe, a former volunteer fire department can’t find the people during the daytime in order to respond to the rapidly increasing population growth and the emergency incidents that go along with that.”

Throughout the years, consolidations have occurred between fire districts to ensure there were enough resources and personnel to handle multiple emergencies at a time and respond to population growth.

If all goes as planned, South Metro Fire will one day serve approximately 540,000 residents in three counties with 700 personnel at 30 fire stations. The area could grow by another 110,000 residents, potentially.

Collaboration is a concern

For the Jeffco commissioners, who met with South Metro staff in an Oct. 30 staff briefing, it was important that South Metro collaborate with Jeffco law enforcement and emergency response agencies.

They had questions about how the transition would work and whether calls to 911 would be taken by Jeffcom 911, Jeffco’s new consolidated dispatch center, or MetCom, the dispatch center serving South Metro. The commissioners also said they hoped there would protocols in place to ensure a smooth changeover.

Ultimately, they requested letters of support from Jeffco Sheriff Jeff Shrader and other involved parties.

South Metro staff agreed this was important and noted they have yet to make much connection because they’re not yet providing services in Jeffco.

“Our intent will be to do that,” said South Metro Chief Bob Baker. “We want that same robust connectivity with law enforcement in Jefferson County that we enjoy with Douglas and Arapahoe (counties.)”

In respect to Jefferson County, Baker said his team has thus far worked primarily with West Metro Chief Don Lombardi as the two departments are similar in scope and will be sharing a border.

“A lion’s share of what we’re going to be doing is sharing a border with West Metro Fire,” Baker said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.