Upper Pine River Fire Protection District
The Upper Pine River Fire Protection District provides all-risk fire, rescue and emergency medical services to 265 square miles of eastern La Plata County and a small portion of Western Archuleta County in southwest Colorado, not far from the Four Corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The District serves a permanent population of approximately 15,000 residents. Within the district is the popular vacation area Lake Vallecito that increases our summer population to over 30,000. The district has many seasonal residents.
The District includes the Town of Bayfield, Gem Village and the communities of Forest Lakes, Vallecito Lake and Lemon Reservoir. The district also covers the County Road 240 corridor from CR 246 to Lemon Dam. The District is mostly an urban interface fire protection district and works closely through mutual aid with the Forest Service and surrounding fire districts. In the year 2015 Upper Pine responded to 805 calls for help. Of these, 605 or about 75% were emergency medical service, 43 were wildland or structure fires. The remaining were miscellaneous calls for service and public assist. The fire district does a significant amount of public assist calls helping elderly or handicapped folks with lift assist. Upper Pine budgets for 20 part-time staff members to supplement the 30 paid staff. During spring and summer, the fire district conducts mitigation services utilizing seasonal and part-time workers in conjunction with private contractors. These services are primarily for grant funded projects on private property and watershed areas. In addition, the District provides assistance to ranchers and farmers with agriculture and ditch burns.
The District maintains eight fire stations, three which are staffed 24 hours in Bayfield, Forest Lakes and Lake Vallecito. The administrative office building is located in the Town of Bayfield at 515 Sower Drive. Resident firefighters are housed in a station on CR 240 and at the Vallecito Dam. Residence firefighters trade rent for responding to calls.
The Upper Pine River Fire Protection District is an autonomous Special District. A five-member Board of Directors elected at-large by their constituents, each serving a staggered four-year term, govern the District. The Fire Chief oversees the general operations of the District in accordance with the policy direction prescribed by the Board of Directors.
The District is non-profit and the major revenue source is a district mill levy and ambulance fees. Additional sources are grant awards and federally funded wildland firefighting.