DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Fire Service released its annual 2022 Colorado Fire Service Needs Assessment report detailing its lack of funding for personnel and equipment.
More than 70% of all fire departments statewide participated.
The report included several takeaways including the fact that it needs to hire thousands of firefighters to its teams within the next two years. Specifically, the fire service needs 1,085 career and 1,327 volunteer firefighters.
Next, it needs to replace 590 apparatus and buy 286 new ones. Apparatus are expensive vehicles like engines, ambulances, and hazmat trucks among others.
Then, the department needs to meet equipment needs like Personal Protective Equipment. This requires spending $40,794,000. Most departments said they don’t have the funding to keep up with this demand for necessary improvements to their stations.
A majority of fire departments are funded through property taxes. They reported an expected decrease in the money coming from these taxes.
Some efforts are underway to help curb the problem like $15 million coming in from bills passed in the Colorado legislature, plus grants. However, the total is just not enough.
“We will use the information to help develop strategies to address the needs of Colorado’s Fire Service. This is an effort that will take more than DFPC, it will take the creativity, the skills, and the efforts of everyone engaged in or served by the Colorado Fire Service,” said Michael Morgan, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.
Ultimately, the report states that the fire department’s needs far exceed current funding which could result in putting firefighters and communities at risk statewide.