Jeff Van Es — Candidate for the Arvada Fire Protection District Board
17101 W 64th Dr, Arvada, CO 80007
Why are you running for the fire board?
I was raised in a family of volunteer firefighters that spans a combined eight decades of service. Having a strong desire to continue this tradition, I volunteered as a firefighter upon moving to Arvada. Following my years of service as a volunteer firefighter, I continued my involvement in the community by providing construction expertise to the AFPD on their construction projects. I value the part every resident of Arvada plays in the continued betterment of the community in which they reside, and wish to bring my experience and dedication to causes related to the growth and betterment of Arvada as a whole. Serving on the Arvada Fire District Board provides me an opportunity to continue to serve Arvada in a manner that affects every citizen within the AFPD boundaries, strengthening the ties that unite us as a community.
What skills do you bring that will help you govern the Arvada Fire District?
I have worked in the commercial construction industry in Colorado for the past 20 years. During that time I have managed construction projects ranging from $1 million to $120 million. This leadership experience will be an asset in helping the AFPD maintain its fiscal responsibility to the citizens it serves, while offering insight to navigating projects and issues in the future.
My firefighter background gives me the insight necessary to understand the needs within the department as they relate to providing the highest level of service to its residents. Having been on emergency calls, I understand the demands and extensive support it takes to safely respond to emergencies.
The AFPD has been providing superior service to its citizens over the years. As a board member, I hope to help the department in continuing this high level of dedication, while being an integral component in growing the level of excellence to the residents of the district.
What are the biggest challenges you see facing the Arvada Fire District?
The biggest challenges I see facing the District are as follows:
- Growth of the Candelas area in the Northwest portion of the city. This area is growing quickly, and response times for the nearest fire station are lengthy. In 2016 the development is expected to exceed 1,000 homes, making the need for a new fire station a necessity in order to support this area’s growth. The addition of fire stations, equipment and adequate staffing will directly relate to budget concerns, as revenue generated by this area may not adequately fund these needs.
- Integrated Community Medicine (Paramedicine). This concept has already been implemented in other metro fire departments and will be coming to Arvada. This specialized theory of service needs to be further evaluated in order to determine opportunities the AFPD has to enhance their services, while further supplementing transport that started a year ago.
- Volunteer/reserve firefighter system. Expansion and growth of the department and its services has changed the benefits of the volunteer/reserve system. This is a great tradition in which this fire department was founded, but risk versus benefit in an ever-changing service industry requires an open-minded evaluation of the system as a whole.
- Future strains on the AFPD need to be addressed as it relates to an increasing demand for emergency medical services due to an aging population, and people using the 911 system for healthcare due to the lack and/or inefficiency of insurance.
How does the configuration of Ralston Road impact the level of service that the Arvada Fire District can provide?
The Arvada Fire Protection District needs to work closely with the City on the development process of the area. The City has adopted codes that require certain width and access guidelines for emergency services. Prior to approval of final design, AFPD will be involved to ensure considerations for emergency services will not be compromised. I would not anticipate any negative impacts to the services provided by the AFPD.
Do you think 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?
I support the decision of the current Board of Directors to add the provision of ambulance transport assistance to the list of services provided by the AFPD for the following reasons:
- Citizens are paying the same, if not slightly less, than they did previously for ambulance service provided through Rural Metro. Being government provided, ambulance service is now made available on a non-profit basis versus the previous contract method, which provided profits to an out of state company. After its first year of service, ambulance transport by AFPD is self-sustaining and any funds received in excess of operating costs will be used to pay back reserves used during the initial start up of the service. Additionally, if the AFPD responds to, treats and subsequently releases the patient without transport, the patient does not pay for the service. The assistance provided by Rural Metro entailed a service charge regardless of the need for transport.
- Consistency in training AFPD personnel is the key to safely providing seamless care to the citizens they serve. Now that the ambulance service is provided by the AFPD, both the paramedic/EMT teams and the fire fighter teams are working under the same medical director. This was not the case when ambulance services were provided by a contract provider, at times resulting in direction-related conflicts. By adding ambulances to the AFPD service fleet, the necessity of the engines and trucks to respond to every single call has been reduced. By minimizing the use of these apparatus on EMS calls, AFPD has reduced staff costs and unnecessary wear and tear on its vehicles.
Did you support the last ballot measure that would have removed term limits for Arvada Fire Board Members?
Did you support the 55% mill-levy increase in 2010?
I supported the mill-levy increase in 2010 so that the citizens of the community would continue to experience the level of service they deserve and expect.
The recession brought a significant decline in property values, which caused loss of revenue to the District. The costs to sustain the services of the District did not decline with the loss of revenue, which would have necessitated a subsequent reduction in services.
The staffing levels for response apparatus was below the standard intended by NFPA 1710. For firefighters to work safely and effectively, four personnel need to be staffed on an engine or truck. When I was in service with AFPD, we responded with three firefighters per apparatus. This delayed our time for entering a structure, potentially compromising the safety of the firefighters while performing their duties and potential occupants of the structure.
As a concerned citizen of Arvada, I supported this mill-levy increase. As with most people, I expect prompt responses to emergency calls and highly-trained personnel caring for my family in their time of need. Emergency service is something we never want to experience, but when we need it we expect “the best”. I am compelled to ensure that all citizens get “the best” from the women and men of the AFPD who respond in their time of need.
For more information regarding the mill-levy increase, review the report and recommendations provided by the Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel to the Arvada Fire Department.
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Requested biographical addition:
Jeff has lived in Arvada for the past 17 years. He is married and has a daughter, who are both active in the community.
Jeff served 8 years as a volunteer firefighter for the Arvada Fire ProtectionDistrict. After his resignation as a volunteer, he continued his involvement in the department by volunteering his time and experience during the construction of the new fire stations and station remodels, in which he received a Certificate of Excellence from the Arvada Fire Protection District in recognition of his efforts, leadership and inspiration with the construction of the AFPD’s new fire stations, in 2007. He has also volunteered his time teaching the AFPD Building Construction Class for multiple Fire Academies.
He has worked in the commercial construction setting in Colorado since graduating from Iowa State University in 1993. He serves on the Building and Grounds Committee for his daughter’s school, and is Vice President of his neighborhood HOA Board.