COLORADO SPRINGS — A dedicated hazmat crew is back at the Colorado Springs Fire Department after more than a decade operating as a shared duty. “This is a huge step in the direction of services to the citizens of Colorado Springs,” said Hazmat Program Manger, Tim Krantz
Just over ten years back, the recession hurt the city budget. Legal issues with the city’s stormwater system were also drawing heavily on the budget. “We were diverting $15 million dollars a year from our general fund to take care of our stormwater legal obligations,” said Colorado Springs Mayor, John Suthers. It all resulted in budget cuts. Things like hazmat were casualties.
For more than a decade hazmat operated as a shared duty. Hazmat Technicians had to also work regular fire calls. “We compensated and we didn’t not respond to any call, but there was a lot of juggling that had to take place,” said Fire Chief, Ted Collas. Many times firefighters would be out and have to return to change out gear and equipment for a hazmat dispatch. “We would respond back to the station, change our protective equipment over and then respond on that [hazmat] apparatus,” said Krantz.
Voters were asked to okay a storm water fee a few years back. “That’s what’s allowed us to reinstate the hazmat unit,” said Suthers. The ballot question promised the money returning to the general fund would go to police and fire. Voters okayed the measure.