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Lefthand Fire Protection District launches campaign for new fire station and community center

Demand has increased through the pandemic

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Lefthand Fire Protection District has been operating out of an outdated fire station while seeing a substantial increase in visitors within the area, according to officials.

The district announced a campaign to build a new facility, which Fire Chief Russell Leadingham envisions as a space for both the community to congregate and an adequate space for volunteer firefighters.

“After more than 40 years of occupancy, our current station has reached the end of its useful life,” said Fire Chief Russell Leadingham. “Having a bigger and more modern station staffed with additional firefighters and emergency responders provides quicker response times to fires and other emergencies across our communities throughout Boulder County.”

The main station is not currently equipped to house or staff on-site emergency responders. Volunteer firefighters have no place to stay overnight, there is only one  training room, and there is no place for community members to convene.

“Volunteer (firefighters) will actually have a place to come when they’re off, and be able to use a gym and have a TV room,” Leadingham said of the future facility. “Younger crowds can hang out here.”

Leadingham also said the new building would ensure volunteers could make the shift to career firefighters if the opportunity arose.

On Tuesday the fire district launched Break Ground 2020, a $2 million fundraising campaign that would build a larger fire, rescue, district administration and community resource center.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, recreators have flocked to trails within the district.

“With the spread of COVID-19, an increasing number of individuals are seeking recreation activities in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, as well as in both Boulder City and Boulder County open space that the areas of our Fire District provide,” resident Bob Young, who is helping in the campaign, said in the release.”As use of the canyon grows at an accelerated pace, the fire district has to continue to expand to meet the ever-growing demand.”

Leadingham has seen the growth firsthand.

“Bike trails that used to have three or four cars, now have 50 to 60 cars,” he said. “Fortunately, for us, the call volume has not drastically increased yet, though the amount of traffic going up our canyon is substantial.”

The district plans to break ground on the new build at the end of the year or early next year, Leadingham said, adding they are currently waiting on plans from the county. After the groundbreaking, he estimates the build will take between 12 and 18 months.

The district sees 43,000 daily vehicle trips on Highway 36, 1,000 daily vehicle trips on the Peak to Peak Highway, 1,400 daily vehicle trips in Lefthand Canyon and 200 daily bicycle trips in the canyon, according to the release.

The district covers 52 square-miles, 70% of which is open space and non-tax revenue generating land for the district. That leaves 30% of the district to fund the department’s day-to-day operations, Leadingham explained.

The Department of Local Affairs has granted the district $1 million, which will go toward the fundraiser. Those interested in donating to the campaign can visit lefthandfire.org.

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