The Log Hill Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1976 when a concerned group of citizens identified a need for fire protection on Log Hill Mesa. Out of this initial effort, the Department has grown to be a proud and capable organization dedicated to protecting our citizens, our homes and our mesa. From these humble beginnings, the Department has always relied upon watchful community members to help sound the alarm early, so that we can get the job done before it gets out-of-hand.
The Department’s greatest resource is our firefighters. These firefighters are made up of your friends and neighbors–average everyday citizens who train to fight fires and operate under stressful, dirty and dangerous conditions. They put in a minimum of thirty six hours of training a year to maintain their proficiency. Some firefighters train over two hundred hours a year to receive special advanced training and obtain higher levels of certification.
The Department is led by a cadre of highly professional chiefs and officers who shoulder great responsibility when they respond to the scene of an incident. The Department is commanded by the Fire Chief who is responsible for the safety and training of all firefighters and officers within the Department. He is the primary incident commander on most incidents and is responsible for the safe operation of all fire scenes. The Fire Chief is backed up by the Assistant Fire Chief who fills in during the Chief’s absence or assists him during complex fire assignments. The Assistant Chief also performs many other duties around the Department to ensure everyday readiness of our firefighters and equipment in the event of an emergency.
The next lines of supervision within the Department are the Station Captains. Typically each station has two Captains assigned to it. The Station Captains are responsible for the training and equipping of all the firefighters assigned to their stations. They are also responsible for the maintenance of all equipment assigned to their stations. During incidents, Station Captains serve as the first line supervisors of groups of firefighters assigned to accomplish certain tasks in order to bring the incident to a safe resolution. They also shoulder the responsibility of being on call for periods of time to ensure a capable officer is always available for any incidents.
The Department maintains two fire stations located at opposite ends of the Log Hill Mesa Fire Protection District. Station 1 is located at 3245 County Road 22, in the northern portion of the District. Station 2 is located at 434 Ponderosa Drive in the southern portion of the District, in Log Hill Village.
Both stations maintain a similar complement of equipment. The primary apparatus is a structure fire fighting vehicle called a pumper. Each has a Wildland fire fighting vehicle called a brush truck. The stations also contain at least one vehicle designed to carry large amounts of water. These vehicles carry 3000 gallons of water and are called tenders. Station 1 has a secondary tender which carries 1000 gallons of water and can be used in remote areas due to the fact that is a retired army truck with 6X6 capability. Each station has a secondary Wildland fire fighting vehicle in the form of a 4 or 6 wheeled all terrain vehicle which carries a small pump and water supply for accessing remote areas.
The Department is organized and equipped to fight fires in the Wildland Urban Interface. This means it can be called to fight structure fires or forest fires within the District or when called by our neighboring districts to assist them. This means that each firefighter must have the clothing and equipment to deploy to either type of fire. Structure fires require firefighters to wear “bunker gear”. This is the type of clothing most people associate with city firefighters. It is bulky and covers every inch of their body. When combined with self-contained breathing apparatus, air packs that are carried on our vehicles, bunker gear enables a firefighter to enter a burning building and operate safely as they search for victims and extinguish fires in structures.
For Wildland fires, or forest fires as most people know them, our firefighters are equipped with lighter fire resistant clothing, leather boots, gloves and hard hats. Most people know these as the yellow shirts and dark green pants they see on the news at forest fires. In addition to this clothing, the firefighters carry packs with water and fire shelters. These fire shelters are small shiny tent like structures that will enable firefighters to survive in the event that a fast moving fire overruns them.
Communications is an important part of ensuring the Department is available to respond instantly. In addition to radios mounted and carried in our vehicles, each firefighter is equipped with a handheld VHF radio that they carry with them at all times. These radios enable them to communicate when at fires and incidents. Our firefighters also carry VHF pagers 24/7. These pagers are on a system that allows the Montrose County Sheriff’s office dispatcher to page out the Department and inform us when and where an incident is occurring with a brief description of the type of incident to expect when we arrive.
Training is an essential part of ensuring our firefighters are safe at all incidents. The Department maintains a training calendar and holds training at least twice a month on subjects that cover both structure and Wildland fires. In addition to these training opportunities, firefighters can participate in events throughout the year, as well as attend fire academies. There is one structure fire academy and two Wildland fire academies conducted each year. These academies allow firefighters to learn from some of the most experienced firefighters in the state. They can then bring this knowledge back to share with their fellow firefighters in the Department.
Physical fitness is also important to the Department because one of the most prevalent causes of injuries and death for firefighters throughout the United States is heart attack and stroke. To help encourage firefighters to maintain a high level of physical fitness, the Department requires each of its firefighters to pass at least one of two physical fitness tests each year. The first test, given each spring is the Federal Arduous Fitness Test, also known as the “pack test”. Firefighters are required to carry a 45 pound pack on a three mile walk in less than 45 minutes. This test also qualifies firefighters to receive their cherished red card which can allow them to fight fires on federal land such a national forests or BLM land.
The other test given in the fall is the Department’s work skills test. While wearing a 45 pound pack, firefighters must perform certain aerobic activities and job skills designed to test their level of physical fitness, dexterity and strength.
While much is expected of our firefighters, we could not do our job without the continuing assistance of our community. Log Hill Mesa has one of the greatest fire dangers in the county. Yet, thanks to the vigilance of our community, for their watchfulness and reporting any suspicious smoke to 911, there have been many occasions where citizens have been there to direct us to the seat of the fire. Additionally many of our citizens are extremely diligent about performing fire mitigation on their properties. These efforts not only help to protect their lands and houses, but also those of their neighbors around them. The Department is not only a company of volunteers and well-maintained equipment; it is also an organization that this community can actively participate in and a place where they can connect to their neighbors.