SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – “Summit County is just getting busier and busier and busier,” Captain Casey Humann said while laughing.
He’s worked with Summit Fire and EMS for 16 years and said the evolutions of the department are evident, but so are the number of calls they’re running around the clock.
“We went from running a few calls a day to hopefully most of the time sleeping at night,” Humann said. “Now we don’t sleep at night, we run quite a bit during the day, but you know, that is what we are here for, and we are here to help people.”
Below is a list of Summit Fire and EMS total yearly calls, ordered by date:
Date: # of Calls
“You can chart the trends in our call volume, and it’s been a standard upward trajectory over the last ten years,” Community resource officer Steve Lipsher said.
Humann said he adores his job, which makes his hour and a half commute up to Summit County from Highlands Ranch worth his time. It’s the same story for Firefighter and EMT Jason Bell, who lives in Erie. He said he’d be happy to live closer to work and the Summit County community, but his priorities were being able to afford something he could raise a family in, compared to the housing crisis options of the resort towns.
“That is one of the reasons why I moved down there,” Bell explained.
While these firefighters have a line out the door for open positions, new hires have to accept they may be commuting from a good distance away if they can’t find affordable housing. Lipsher admits it’s not a new phenomenon, but thankfully one they are able to operate around. Still, retention for long-term employees takes a hit when crews start looking for a spot to settle down, but find nowhere nearby that’s in their price range, according to Bell.
At the moment, crews are able to keep up with the growing pressure from the community, although things could be less stressful for responders. Summit Fire and EMS have absorbed Copper Mountain Fire and ambulance services for the county which plays into the increased numbers over the years, but Lipsher said that’s still not the biggest driver of calls. The major difference is the number of people living or staying up in the mountains, and he expects that to continue to grow.