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Seasonal Wildland Firefighter
Upper Pine River Fire Protection District
The Upper Pine River Fire Protection District provides all-risk/hazard fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to 284 square miles of eastern La Plata County and a small portion of the western part of Archuleta County in southwest Colorado, located near the Four Corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. We proudly serve a permanent population of approximately 14,000 residents. The popular vacation area of Lake Vallecito increases our summer population with seasonal residents largely from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Our district includes the Town of Bayfield, Gem Village, and the communities of Forest Lakes, Vallecito Lake, and Lemon Reservoir. We also cover the County Road 240 corridor from County Road 246 to above Lemon Dam to the Forest Service Boundaries. The topography includes several urban interfaces and intermixed neighborhoods. We work closely through mutual aid with the US Forest Service and surrounding fire districts to protect the community.
In 2021, we responded to 1134 calls for help. Of those calls, approximately 77% or 880 were a request for emergency medical services or motor vehicle crashes. We employ 35 full-time employees with daily staffing of 8 fire and EMS personnel. Part-time members and 6 support staff also trained as EMTs or Paramedics support operations. During spring and summer, typically mitigation services are performed utilizing a 4-8 person wildland crew and part-time members in conjunction with private contractors. These services are primarily for grant-funded projects on private property and watershed areas. When feasible, assistance to ranchers and farmers with agriculture and ditch burns is provided in the Spring.
We maintain eight fire stations, three of 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 stations on CR 240 and at the Vallecito Dam. Resident firefighters respond to calls and maintain stations.
The Upper Pine River Fire Protection District is an autonomous Colorado Special District. As a non-profit, the major revenue sources are a mill levy, wildland fire deployments, and ambulance fees. Additional sources are grant awards and federally funded wildland firefighting activities. We are governed by a five-member Board of Directors elected at large by their constituents, each serving a staggered four-year term. The Fire Chief oversees the general operations in accordance with the policy direction prescribed by the Board of Directors.