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Arvada Fire Co.: Going Above and Beyond

Serving, protecting and connecting with the community since 1907

Article by Michelle W. Parnell

Photography by Arvada Fire Co.

Originally published in Arvada Lifestyle

Dating as far back as 1907, Arvada firefighting has a rich history of serving, protecting and connecting with the local community. It all started with a team of volunteers and a great deal of manpower, literally.

“Firefighting was a lot different back then and it’s come a long way in terms of the equipment and the safety and protective gear, for ourselves and for our community. In the early days, the hose they carried to the scene of a fire was manually carried by a two-wheeled cart,” shares Brady Johnson, Communications Specialist at Arvada Fire Co. “Our first motorized engine was purchased in 1923 and is affectionately called The Old Dodge. It's kept in good shape, cleaned meticulously, and we bring The Old Dodge to different community events and parades.”

For almost a hundred years, Arvada Fire was a completely volunteer fire department. “We were the largest and one of the most successful all-volunteer fire departments west of the Mississippi River. In 1999, we became a paid career fire department, meaning that for the firefighters, this is their job,” explains Brady. “They live at the fire station when they are on shift and are paid for that time. We still have people currently working with us who started in the 1990s as volunteers. That piece of our history is recent and still a source of pride.”

The department has grown to nine active fire stations with approximately 200 employees, serving more than 130,000 citizens. In addition to upgrades in equipment and training, the way Arvada Fire serves the community has changed over the years and encompasses so much more than fighting fires.

“We’re a first-rate fire department that provides a high level of service to our community,” says Brady. “We’re one of eight fire departments in Colorado, and 150 nationally, that have both accreditation through the Commission of Fire Accreditation International and a Class One rating through the Insurance Services Office. We provide a breadth of services and have many ways we can help members of the community. We are an all-hazards fire department, which means we are trained for, and respond to, a wide variety of emergencies and 9-1-1 calls.”

“We train quite heavily for fires, but we also respond to medical emergencies; about three-quarters of our calls are medical,” he adds. “EMS is a huge component of the modern fire service and Arvada Fire. Every apparatus, meaning every fire truck or ambulance, is staffed with a firefighter paramedic and we bring Advanced Life Support capacity, the highest level of pre-hospital care, to every single incident. We also have four different special operations teams in addition to EMS and fire: wildfire, ice and water rescue, technical rescue, and hazardous materials. Those teams add a unique component to what we do.”

A large part of Arvada Fire’s daily activity focuses on outreach and prevention education. “We are a very proactive and progressive fire department in that we don’t just respond to emergencies, but we also try to prevent them,” explains Brady. “Any given day, we might have a risk reduction specialist in someone's home installing free smoke alarms, a firefighter performing car safety seat inspections for new parents, and someone who is giving a presentation about wildfire safety."

The Home Safety Visit program serves the community in a special way. “If a citizen has a safety concern, they can call us or fill out a form online ... we will come to their home for free, check the smoke alarms, and install new smoke or carbon monoxide alarms if needed,” he says. “While we are there, we get to know them, look around for risks and find ways that we can make them safer.”

It's not fire though, but falls, that are the number one call for 9-1-1 services, Brady shares. "Someone fell and  might be injured or alone and they need help getting up,” he says. “In response, we have a Fall Prevention Program. We partner with an app called Nymbl Training, which is free. Citizens create an account and do different training and exercises, rooted in science, to help prevent falls and improve balance.”

The STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) Program, a pilot program, addresses mental and behavioral health crises. “Its entire mission is to improve care and services to people experiencing mental health crises, substance abuse issues, or homelessness,” he says. “There are a variety of no-cost services delivered with compassion for that demographic.”

Recently, Arvada Fire released its 2024-2028 Strategic Plan. “We’re always looking to improve the services we have and the way we deliver them,” explains Brady. “The strategic plan is a collaborative process and a community-driven plan that serves as our roadmap." Feedback from citizens who call 9-1-1 is a key metric, he explains. Called a Citizen Satisfaction Score, the department is currently at a 97% satisfaction rate.

In addition to ongoing programs, the department offers a Citizens’ Fire Academy in spring; the Youth Fire Academy for all youth ages 11 to 14 years old, and Camp Ember, for young women aged 16-18, in summer; and the Senior Safety Camp and Safety Fair in the fall.

Events and programs provide an opportunity to connect with the community year round. “[They] provide an opportunity for us to get to know you and for you to get to know the fire department,” says Brady. “We don’t want the only time for you to see and hear from the fire department to be on your worst day. Although we are obviously ready for that day, we’d rather see you on a good day and build connections that way. If we can see people more on those good days, maybe we can prevent the bad days from happening in the first place.”

To view the 2024-2028 Strategic Plan, visit Arvadafireco.gov and follow Facebook, @ArvadaFire and on Instagram, @arvada_fire.

“We are a very proactive and progressive fire department ... don’t just respond to emergencies; we try to prevent them."

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