Bob Wilson — Candidate for the Arvada Fire Protection District Board
11480 W 66th Pl, Arvada, CO 80004
303-517-4564/cell (corrected number)
Responses to Questions by Robert E. “Bob” Wilson
1. Why are you running for the fire board?
I am running for Director of the Arvada Fire Protection District (AFPD or District) to continue my many years of community service. Examples are leading the Arvada Gold Line Advisory Committee, participating in numerous meetings and summits on community planning, and most recently, on the DRCOG MetroVision 2040 Citizen’s Advisory Committee. I learned a great deal about the District while serving on their Blue Ribbon Panel in 2010, followed by attending the AFPD Citizen’s Fire Academy in 2011, then spending a day with the firefighters of Station 2 in 2012. I have particular interest in serving organizations that could benefit from my knowledge of local issues. I would like to use my broad base of technical and engineering skills to help guide the department into the future.
2. What skills do you bring that will help you govern the Arvada Fire District effectively?
The skills I would bring to this Directorship are research on issues, analysis, and (diplomatically) asking the hard questions. I developed these skills while earning advanced degrees in mathematics and engineering and managing a Federal agency’s research program. Financial management skills were demonstrated when I served as Treasurer of the Denver Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, managing a budget of many thousands and investments over $100,000.
3. What are the biggest challenges you see facing the Arvada Fire District?
In my opinion, the top challenges for the District are:
- To move from an ISO (Insurance Service Organization: http://www.iso.com/About-ISO/Overview/About-ISO.html) rating of 3 to a better rating of 2, which should decrease insurance rates for businesses and industries.
- To finish the application process and be awarded accreditation by the CFAI, the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (http://publicsafetyexcellence.org/agency-accreditation/about-accreditation-cfai.aspx). There are only 187 Districts worldwide that have achieved this distinction, with 30 currently applying. Accreditation should help the District attain the more desirable ISO 2 rating.
- Decide when to build Station 9 in the Candelas area. The decision will be a balance between costs and income. Income is based on the number of homes, businesses, and industries, their tax evaluation rate, and the tax revenue they generate. Costs are for the building and a staff of twelve (three shifts, four firefighters/shift) plus overhead. This runs about $1.6M/year.
- Move from a fire protection district to a fire protection and prevention district.
- Improve the District’s sustainability practices, for example, investigate running district equipment on diesel with 5% biodiesel.
- Continue to grow, improve, learn, and be an industry leader.
4. How does the configuration of Ralston Road impact the level of service that the Arvada Fire District can provide?
From a non-technical standpoint, I am not aware of any effect the configuration of Ralston Road would have on the District’s level of service. It is my observation most drivers yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. A more scientific and exact answer would require analysis by a traffic engineer. I would be interested in hearing the specific concerns of the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community (CLRC).
5. Do you think that the benefits to the community outweighs the costs of having our own ambulance service? If so please explain the trade-off between the added cost and new services being provided. If not how will you approach liquidating the Ambulances that were purchased and reducing the Arvada Fire District staff?
In my opinion, the benefits to the community outweigh the costs of having an ambulance service. As the population of the AFPD ages, a coordinated service under one dispatch office provided by highly-trained personnel is critical. In some aspects, para-medical and ambulance service is best done as a “public utility” run by a governmental unit, rather than the past experience of frequent changes of ownership of private ambulance services. An important economic aspect is the cost of the vehicle that responds to an emergency call. It is more cost-effective to send an ambulance than a fire engine that costs around $400,000 or a fire truck (ladder) that costs about $900,000.
6. Did you support the last ballot measure that would have removed term limits for Arvada Fire Board Members?
Most likely, I voted to keep term limits for Directors of the AFPD (but my memory is inexact). I debated the merits of keeping term limits and removing limits with my wife and other friends. On one hand, AFPD had trouble attracting candidates to serve. On the other hand, one factor in good governance is having a wide variety of backgrounds and periodically infusing fresh thought on any Board of Directors.
7. Did you support the 55% mill-levy increase in 2010?
I supported the mill levy increase for the AFPD. The latest property tax records on my average Arvada home show an AFPD tax levy of 14.848 mills and a total tax levy of 101.473 mills. This means that roughly 14.6% of our tax payment went to AFPD. Hence, the 55% AFPD increase was about an 8% overall increase. With this tax increase the District moved from three to four fighters on every apparatus (engine or truck), which speeds hose deployment, other set-ups, and fire management. Firefighters should only enter a burning structure in pairs. With three on a truck, two already in the structure, and indications citizens were inside, firefighters would take the risk to their health and life of entering alone. The increased revenue allowed the District to build new stations in areas of District population growth and expand older fire stations designed for volunteers to stations for professional crews who have 24-hour shifts.