New Stagecoach station inches along

Volunteer firefighters still needed to handle booming growth in Oak Creek district

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Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup stands outside the new Stagecoach fire station, which he said he hopes will be operational by the end of December. Next to Wisecup is the district's new fire truck, its first new vehicle since its inception in 1978.

— Stagecoach residents could be in position to celebrate the opening of their new fire station before ringing in the New Year.

Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup said Friday that he hopes to have the station operating by the end of December. The new building, which is about a year behind schedule, is looking more like a fire station every day. When finished, it will accommodate two fire/EMS trucks and six living quarters.

Wisecup said the delays are mostly the result of the 6,400-square-foot station being built with discounted or donated materials and volunteer labor.

"I know people want to know what's taking so long, but really we've been able to build this station for about $250,000, which is less than what most of the homes are going for out here now," he said. "I'm still hoping that by the end of the year we'll be ready to go."

On Friday, an electrician spent the day working in the station's massive bays. Getting heat into the building is one of the final steps before completion.

Homeowners might notice a change - for the better - in their insurance rates once the fire station is completed. Most insurance policies require homeowners to live within five road miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant to qualify for less expensive insurance.

"I've been hearing that some insurances might be cut from (between) two-thirds (and one-) half," Wisecup said.

The fire station was part of a general capital improvement plan the Oak Creek Fire Protection District Board drew up several years ago in anticipation of Stagecoach's booming growth.

Construction in the area has been taxing the district because of a lack of volunteers to res-pond to calls.

"Building construction in the Stagecoach area is up 200 percent from 2004 and up 40 percent from 2005," Wisecup said. "There are 54 new homes going up right now, and the permits are still rolling in."

More homes mean more calls for service, he said.

"On average, we respond to about 160 calls a year. It's not even the end of the year, and we've already broken 200 calls," he said.

He also anticipates more construction-related car accidents on Routt County Road 16.

To accommodate the growing population and need for service, Wisecup said the district needs more firefighting and EMS volunteers. The district currently relies on about 25 volunteers. Ideally, another 20 would step forward to manage both the Oak Creek and Stagecoach stations, Wisecup said.

"Getting volunteers is the hardest part of things right now," he said.

To deal with the lack of manpower, the Oak Creek Fire Protection District Board will look to add a paid deputy fire chief and five paid, full-time weekend shifts to its 2007 budget. The board meets Monday for a preliminary approval of the budget.

Volunteers are paid $35 for each call they respond to. Wisecup said interested volunteers should call him at 736-8104. Firefighting and EMS courses will begin in January, he said.

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