Mill Levy Information
1. “Did You Know?” – Staffing Model
Our second post in our “Did You Know?” series focuses on staffing. We are often asked questions by members of the public such as: How many firefighters are on duty? Are all the firefighters at BWFR volunteer? What stations are staffed?
These are all excellent questions and here are the answers! BWFR is what is known as a “combination” department, meaning we have both career and reserve firefighters (Volunteer). We currently have 20 career employees and use 48 reserve firefighters to supplement staffing. Reserve firefighters are required to work a minimum of 36 hours per month and are scheduled into a calendar to work no differently than our career employees.
Station 91, located at 515 Washington Ave in Bennett, is staffed 24-7 with career and reserve firefighters. For 24 hours a day there are a minimum of two career firefighters on duty, and after 7:00pm, this increases to three firefighters. In addition to these career firefighters reserve firefighters supplement the staffing when available.
Station 92, located at 35900 E. Colfax Ave in Watkins, is staffed 24-7 with career and reserve firefighters. For 24 hours a day there are a minimum of two career firefighters on duty. In addition to these career firefighters reserve firefighters supplement the staffing when available.
Station 93, located at 825 Sharis CT in Bennett, serves as our administrative office where our command staff works and responds from between the hours of 7:00am and 4:00pm. In addition to our command staff, this location also houses our vehicle maintenance operations.
Station 94, located at 4495. South County Road 129 in Bennett, is not staffed with career or reserve firefighters on a regular basis, but is used to store equipment and vehicles which can be used as needed. As the community continues to grow and service demand increases, the District will explore options to increase services from this location. However in order to accomplish this, additional funding will be required.
While BWFR has come a long way over the years and is proud of our staff, we are still a long way from being compliant with national standards for staffing levels. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), who sets firefighting industry compliance standards, states that for a simple room and contents fire in an average residential home, 17 firefighters are needed on the scene within the first eight minutes of a fire.
Currently on a daily basis BWFR staffs 8 firefighters who are readily available to respond to a fire if not assigned to another call, this is less than half of the recommended industry standard.
BWFR remains committed to providing the highest quality of service to the community and safety to our staff. We are continuing to explore new ways to supplement our staffing, however ultimately additional funding is a key component to increasing staffing level to improve community and firefighter safety.
2. “Did You Know?” – Tax Based Income
One of the most frequent questions is how is the Fire District funded and what are the financial needs of the District? In addition we have received a lot of questions as to why the District is facing some significant financial challenges starting in 2018. Bennett-Watkins Fire Rescue is funded based on a mill levy set at 8.907 from assessed land value on all real property in the district, including residential, commercial, and industrial. These property based taxes are collected by both Adams and Arapahoe Counties and the applicable portion collected for the fire protection is distributed to the Fire District.
The District is currently facing some financial challenges with a decreasing budget.
In 2016 the District was provided $1,844,262 in total taxes.
In 2017 the District was provided $1,766,067 in total taxes.
Our 2018 Projection for Taxable income is $1,620,788
This shows that even though some residential property values and assessments have increased, the District is experiencing an overall shrinking trend in taxable income having sustained a $223,474 loss in our budget over three years.
This reduction poses a significant challenge as volunteers are increasingly short and the District has needed to continue to hire additional career firefighters. The District continues to find creative ways to cut excess expenditures and dedicate as much funding as possible to payroll. Keeping firefighters on the street to make sure the community is safe is a high priority of us and payroll expenditures account for approximately 84% of the District’s taxable income for 2018.
As the community continues to grow the District is facing an inevitable need to keep pace with increasing demands for emergency services, and the replacement and upkeep of equipment and services.
If you every have additional questions about the District’s budget or services offered we always welcome contact from the public at our District office or by email or phone at Info@BennettFireRescue.org or 303-644-3572.