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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

John Erickson honored for service to Berthoud Fire Protection District

The Special District Association of Colorado (SDA) recently awarded its Board Member of the Year to John Erickson for his service to the Berthoud Fire Protection District.

The SDA awards several Distinguished Board Member Awards each year, but only one board member is chosen to receive the Board Member of the Year Award. This year that honor went to Erickson. Berthoud Fire Chief Steve Charles had this to say about Erickson’s award, “There are 1,600 special districts in Colorado; it is an honor that one of our own received such a prestigious recognition for his contributions to our community and the district.”

While Erickson received the award based on his 28 years of service a member of the Fire Board, his involvement with the district began in 1962 as a volunteer firefighter. In his 25 years of active service, he also served as Assistant Chief and Chief of the fire department. More of his accomplishments are detailed in the nomination document below.

We congratulate John Erickson for his service to the community and for the recognition of his achievements.

Following is the text of the nomination submitted by Fire Chief Steven Charles.

Specific Contributions to the Special District

Director Erickson, during his tenure, has specifically contributed, through his leadership, dedication and active participation to the success of the Berthoud Fire Protection District. He played an important role in the passing of two (2) bond issues. The first bond issue was passed in 1988 for the addition (10,000 sq ft) of business offices space, apparatus bays and sleeping area for firefighters; and the addition (5,000 sq ft) for the Berthoud Area Community Center. The expansion of Fire Station 1 provided needed fire apparatus bays, office space for administrative staff and sleeping area for firefighters. Prior to the passing of this bond issue, the Town of Berthoud or Berthoud area did not have a community center. The Berthoud Area Community Center (BACC), owned and operated by the District, has the flexibility to have one large meeting area or with the use of folding walls have five smaller meeting areas for multiple groups. In addition, the BACC has a large commercial kitchen available for its users. Our senior citizen organization, the Berthoud Golden Links, uses the Center daily for their morning coffee social gathering and their senior lunches. In addition, the Golden Links use the Center for fund raising events. The Center is used by a number of groups to include, not limited to; service organizations, home owner associations, the Berthoud Library for their summer youth reading programs and the Town of Berthoud. Over the years countless wedding receptions, funeral receptions, retirement parties and birthday parties have been held at the Center. In addition, the Center houses an office for the Berthoud Golden Links Director.

The vision of our Board of Directors, through the District’s “Business Plan” was to significantly reduce response times to those residents who reside in the western portion of our District, lower insurance premiums to home and business owners and enhance emergency services District wide. The “Business Plan” included a bond issue, the extension of the District’s Capital Mill Levy and an increase in the District’s Operating Mill Levy for the purchase of land and construction of Fire Station 2, the purchase of fire apparatus and the hiring of career firefighters. With the passing of these ballot issues, the District purchased land and constructed Fire Station 2, purchased necessary fire apparatus and hired additional career firefighters.

Following our Insurance Services Office (ISO) “Public Protection Classification” survey in the spring of 2004, the District received an ISO classification of 3 within five driving miles of either station. The ISO classification 3 is a commercial rating which significantly lowered insurance premiums for more than 80% of our District. ISO classifications were reduced from either a Class 5 or Class 10 to a Class 3. This not only impacted those residents residing in the western portion of our District but those who resided within the Town of Berthoud and those who resided within five driving miles of Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 2. The District, with a Class 3 rating, experiences the same insurance premium savings that less than 4% of all fire departments nationwide share. Through the fruition of the District’s “Business Plan,” response times were reduced, emergency services enhanced and millions of taxpayers’ dollars were saved in home and business owner insurance premiums.

In 1992, through an intergovernmental agreement, the Berthoud Fire Protection District provided an avenue to bring “Advanced Life Support” (ALS) services to the Town of Berthoud and the District. The District provided space in Fire Station 1 to house an ALS ambulance and medical staff from Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services (TVEMS). The ALS ambulance was co-staffed by both the District and Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services. The District provided the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)/firefighter and TVEMS provided the paramedic. To enhance our fire suppression staffing, the TVEMS paramedic was crossed trained as a firefighter certified through the State of Colorado. This cooperative effort significantly reduced response times fore ALS treatment and transport and enhanced the number of fire suppression personnel on duty.

Civic and Community Activities or awards received:

Secretary/Treasurer Erickson has been an active member of the Lions Club for many years. He assists our senior organization, the Berthoud Golden Links, with their monthly fund raising breakfast and fund raising efforts through community events.

Secretary/Treasurer John F. Erickson served on the Town of Berthoud Town Council as a Councilman for six years. He served on the Town Council between 1970 and 1976 (dates are approximate). In addition, he served on the McKee Hospital Advisory Board for six years (dates of service unknown).

General participation/contributions to the Special District; i.e., increase in quality of service, cost reduction, efficiency of management, SDA service, etc.:

John F. Erickson served as a volunteer firefighter with the Berthoud Fire Protection District between November 1962 through November 1987. During his tenure as a volunteer firefighter with the District, he served as Assistant Chief and Fire Chief. During his tenure as a member of the volunteer organization, he contributed to the enhancement of emergency services to the District and participated in numerous fund raising events for the Department.

During John F. Erickson’s tenure of 28 years as a Board member with the Berthoud Fire Protection District tax payers have experienced an increase in the quality of emergency services; i.e. fire suppression, medical treatment and transport, technical rescue, public education, wildland fire suppression and hazardous material mitigation. Under the vision and leadership of our Board of Directors, the District has developed a Water Rescue Team that has the technical knowledge and skills to conduct dive rescue, ice dive rescue and swift water rescue. In addition, the District has established a Tactical Emergency Medical Team that functions hand – in – hand with local law enforcement and the Weld County Special Weapons and Tactics Team.

The District has established firefighter staffing programs that reduce the cost of providing emergency services to our community. The District established a college intern firefighter program in cooperation with Aims Community College, Fire Science Technology Degree Program. Students are recruited from the degree program into the District’s “Intern” program. They are required to work a total of five 24 hour shifts per month in return for tuition support in attaining their certification through the State of Colorado as a firefighter, an Emergency Medical Technician, Type II Wildland firefighter and in Hazardous Materials Operations. Firefighters, through an intergovernmental agreement with Thompson Valley, receive their Emergency Medical Technician training at no cost to the District. In addition, Thompson Valley EMS provides the District’s Emergency Medical Technicians with continuing education credits at no cost to the District. Each intern firefighter equals ½ full time employee. In addition, the use of temporary full and part-time firefighter positions provides for an avenue to provide services at a lower cost. Currently the District has six temporary full time firefighters and seven temporary part time firefighters.

The District established a “Wildland Fire Program” that includes eight seasonal wildland firefighters and four wildland firefighting apparatus. All uniformed firefighters employed by the District are required to obtain certification as a wildland firefighter through the National Wildfire Coordination Group. The District has a significant wildland-urban-interface area with communities built in and along the foothills of our District in both Larimer and Boulder County. Our “Wildland Fire Program” has significantly improved our abilities to provide not only fire protection to those citizens who live in the wildland fire interface areas, but also public education in respect to defending their homes and property through public education. The District enters into a Colorado State Forest Service Cooperator Resource Rate Form agreement annually for in-State and out-of-State wildland fire deployments. These deployments provide opportunity for a flow of revenue into the District while assisting agencies with their wildland fire suppression. Only two of the four wildland fire suppression apparatus are available at any one time for deployment out of our jurisdiction.

The District completed a “Community Wildfire Protection Plan” for the purpose of addressing issues of wildfire response, hazard mitigation, community preparedness and structural protection from wildfire in the District’s wildland-urban interface area. The “Community Wildfire Protection Plan” brings the District in compliance with the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003 and the Larimer County 2010 Wildland Fire Preparedness Plan.

The District has developed an “Office of Emergency Management” under the direction of an Emergency Management Coordinator. Our Emergency Management Coordinator is a volunteer; however, he has spent countless hours assisting the District in respect to planning and response to both natural and made disasters. Since the inception of this program and the development of this position, the District has written an “Emergency Operations Plan,” revised our “Business Continuity Plan,” and conducted several “Risk and Vulnerability Assessments” on critical infrastructure within the District.

Through an understanding with the Town of Berthoud, the Berthoud Area Community Center provides office space for the” Berthoud Area Transportation System.” The Berthoud Area Transportation System (BATS) provides door – to – door service within the Town of Berthoud and surrounding area. The geographical area identified for BATS service is the jurisdictional boundaries of the Berthoud Fire Protection District. BATS provide transportation services for all ages for no cost or a minimal fee for the purpose of shopping, physician appointments, recreation destinations, school, etc. to locations in the Town of Berthoud, City of Loveland, City of Longmont and the City of Fort Collins.

In closing, Secretary/Treasurer John F. Erickson has an excellent attendance record; during our Board of Director meetings he has contributed to the vision, pro-activeness and search for excellence of the District. John F. Erickson is an informed Board of Director, participating pro-actively. He visits the business office on regular bases throughout the week to sign checks or other pertinent documents requiring his signature. I encourage the Special District Association to award the 2010 SDA Distinguished Board Member Award to Secretary/Treasurer John F. Erickson for his contributions to the Berthoud Fire Protection District, the Town of Berthoud and 28 years of service to our community as a Board member and his 25 years of service as a volunteer firefighter.

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