COLORADO SPRINGS — This year's SHIELD616 border to border ride is happening this week the effort has already raised enough money to outfit the entire Steamboat Springs police department with protective gear and now we are also looking to help a local agency: Black Forest Fire Rescue.
James Rebitski is the Deputy Fire Chief with Black Forest Fire Rescue. “Firefighters are a unique breed of people. They don't ask for much anything and it's not the greatest paying job”
Firefighters in general are used to making do with the resources they have, and that is particularly true in Black Forest says Deputy Chief Rebitski. “Black Forest, although we are a department that covers a large number of square miles, we are smaller budget Department.”
And if you are wondering why Black Forest Fire Rescue has a need for rifle rated ballistics gear, Deputy Chief Rebitski says, “People think we only fight fires. This department does everything from medical transport, firefighting, and hazmat. We don't try to run into a bad situation a lot of times the situation will develop around us. There have been many scenes over the years where there has been an armed assailant in the residence while we're putting out a fire. There have been several times that we have actually had to post watches in the woods for an armed assailant while the other firefighters put out the fire. I personally during my career have been shot at while on an ambulance. We have had many instances where there were guns in the house, we stumbled into a what we thought was a medical call that actually ended up being a scene where people had been shot. You never know what you're going to get into. That’s why having protective equipment that will get our firefighters home every night is crucial.”
A global metal roofing solutions company based in Black Forest, S-5 has come forward in a big way to assist KOAA News5 and SHIELD616 in the effort to raise the $48,500 needed to purchase armor vests and helmets for every member of Black Forest Fire Rescue.
Rob Haddock is the C.E.O. of S-5. Rob says, “We mount things on metal roofs, from solar arrays to snow guards to satellite dishes, fall protection systems and anything you would mount to a metal roof. We do it penetration free to preserve the warranties of those metal roofs. We've been used on buildings including the world headquarters of Apple, Google, IBM, NATO in Brussels Belgium.”
Rob’s professional background has been in construction his entire professional life, and he says his family has a long history in Black Forest. “The Haddocks have been in Black Forest now for four generations. There are about twenty of us scattered around here depending on how you count them. Many of those folks depend on our company for support and growth of their families, these guys here at Black Forest Fire Rescue are defending us against a lot of different things. They're not just firefighters, they are an ambulance service and I dread to think but people have actually snipped at firefighters, and even set fires to snipe at firefighters.”
This week, S-5 made a $10,000 donation to the KOAA/SHEILD616 virtual telethon to, as they like to say at S-5, get it started - the right way. Rob says, “We’re willing, we're able and I wanted to see this fundraiser get kicked off the right way. It's incumbent on me and it's my privilege to be able to do this for SHIELD616 and for my own Black Forest Fire department, to protect our protectors.”
SHIELD616 founder Jake Skifstad received the donation with gratitude and excitement. “To start a telethon with a donation like this, a $10,000 donation from a Black Forest resident and a Black Forest business for Black Forest Fire Rescue. I really hope that that's going to challenge and motivate other individuals, other businesses, churches, and foundations that might be in the Black Forest area to get behind our Black Forest Fire Department. We all see what our first responders are going through right now. We want to not only better protect them while they're out there protecting us, but we also want to support them and encouraged them and be praying for them.”
The $10,000 donation from S-5 ensures 5 of the 22 kits needed for the department which is much appreciated by the department. There is still work to do by the end of this week to raise the rest of the money. Deputy Chief Rebitski says, “It’s my job to make sure my guys get home safe at night and so I asked that any little bit anyone can donate will help. If it will get our people home every night to their families and their loved ones and keep them safe that's going to make our lives much better. We greatly appreciate forever any little thing that you can do.”
Before leaving the Black Forest Fire Department this week, Rob had another generous commitment to SHIELD616. Rob telling Jake Skifstad, “We're a family company and we also have a family Foundation and I would like to commit that we will continue to support SHIELD616 on an annual basis. Our family foundation was created to protect preserve and make lives better, and you're a guy who does that.”
You can support SHIELD616 AND KOAA News 5 on the 2020 Border to Border ride across Colorado this week, through the virtual telethon on Thursday, September 10th, the first day of the ride.