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Mountain Firefighters Keep Up With Rising Call Volumes While Facing Unique Challenges – CBS Denver

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado (CBS4) – “Summit County is getting busier and busier,” Captain Casey Humann said with a laugh.

(credit: CBS)

He has worked with Summit Fire and EMS for 16 years and said the changes in the department are evident, but so is the number of calls they make around the clock.

(credit: CBS)

“We went from a few calls a day to hopefully mostly sleeping at night,” Humann said. “Now we don’t sleep at night, we run a lot during the day, but you know, that’s what we’re here for, and we’re here to help people.”

Below is a list of the total annual Summit Fire and EMS calls, listed by date:

Date: number of calls

2011: 2080
2012: 2014
2013: 2229
2014: 2216
2015: 2409
2016: 2399
2017: 2475
2018: 2992
2019: 3402
2020: 4153

“You can trace trends in our call volume, and it’s been a standard upward trajectory over the last ten years,” said Community Resources Manager Steve Lipsher.

Humann said he loves his job, which makes his hour and a half drive to Summit County from Highlands Ranch worth his time. It’s the same story for firefighter and EMT Jason Bell, who lives in Erie. He said he would be happy to live closer to work and the Summit County community, but his priorities were being able to afford something in which he could raise a family, versus the housing crisis options of the resort towns.

(credit: CBS)

“That’s one of the reasons I moved there,” Bell explained.

Although these firefighters have a queue for vacancies, new hires must accept that they may commute a fair distance if they cannot find affordable housing. Lipsher admits it’s not a new phenomenon, but luckily they’re able to work around it. Still, long-term employee retention takes a hit when teams start looking for a place to set up shop, but can’t find anywhere nearby that’s within their price range, according to Bell.

For the moment, the crews are able to cope with the increasing pressure from the community, although things could be less stressful for the responders. Summit Fire and EMS absorbed Copper Mountain Fire and Ambulance Services for the county, helping numbers grow over the years, but Lipsher said it’s still not the biggest call engine. The main difference is the number of people living or staying in the mountains, and he expects this to continue to grow.