In March, Grand Junction Fire Department began training the first group of Firefighters funded by the First Responder Tax passed in April 2019. Seventeen new recruits are finishing up a 19-week academy where they learned skills in firefighting, technical rescue, EMS, hazardous materials, fire prevention, and community risk reduction. Ultimately, they will fill spots needed to staff the new GJFD Station 6 which is anticipated to open in November.
This academy is an academy of firsts. This is the first academy funded by the first responder tax, the first academy taking place in the new training facility, the first academy of its size, and the first ever academy practicing social distancing. After their graduation in August, firefighters from this academy will spend their first year on the job in mentorships to make sure they are continuing to practice and advance their skills. Battalion Chief Matt Carson said, “Overall we are a really young department. Right now, we need to make sure we are giving these men and women a solid foundation and setting them up for success to be safe and effective firefighters.”
The First Responder Tax provides 0.5% to fund fire stations, additional firefighters, and police officers. Besides station 6, two additional fire stations and the firefighters to staff them will come online during the next five years.