Today Copper Mountain has some 2,465 acres available for skiing and snow boarding in the winter as well as hiking, bicycling and other activities during the summer. The resort itself is currently owned by Powdr Corp. Seeing an average of 269 inches of snow each year, skiers enjoy over 140 ski trails that are serviced by 23 separate lifts. There are thirty-nine different facilities for lodging as well as twenty-one restaurants and bars and more than thirty shops and other facilities such as a golf course and ice skating rink that attract people to such an area and provide the full gamut of pleasure when not skiing.

Although the ski area originally opened in 1971, it wasn't until 1973 that a fire department was established. At that time, the department was covered by volunteers all of which were employees at Copper Mountain Resort. Their first piece of apparatus was used American LaFrance pumper. In 1977 they received their first new rig, a Ford C-model with Emergency One bodywork featuring a 750 GPM pump and 500 gallon tank. In 1981, Emergency One delivered a second pumper to Copper Mountain. Like the Ford it was painted lime green, however this unit was based on a Hendrickson chassis with a canopy cab. It had a 1500 GPM pump and 500 gallon tank. As the area continued to grow, several multiple story buildings were constructed for lodging. With the closest aerial device some ten miles away in Frisco, Copper Mountain obtained a used American LaFrance Century quint equipped with a 75-foot rear mounted aerial from the Salt Lake City area.

 The current fleet of apparatus provides an interesting mix of units all constructed by Sutphen that is nothing short of unique. The backbone of the fleet is a pair of pumpers that were delivered during 1997 and 1998. In an effort to have the residents and visitors of Copper Mountain better identify with their fire department it was decided that these rigs would be painted in a striking metal flake copper color.

Engine 813 is the 1998 model and operates one of only handful of Sutphen custom pumpers equipped with four-wheel-drive capabilities. This unit was constructed at Sutphen's East facility located in Monticello, New York and features a high suspension four wheel drive conversion by Marmon-Herrington to ensure mobility during the snowy winter season. The rear body is constructed of stainless steel and features roll up compartment doors. It was decided to paint the doors to bring the copper color to the rear of the apparatus and provide contrast against the stainless body which is unpainted. Engine 813 features an extended cab to accommodate an EMS compartment inside. The firefighting package is comprised of a 1500 GPM pump, 500 gallons of water and 15 gallons each of Class A and B foam for use with the Akron eductor system. The system permits the foam to be discharged through the front bumper discharge. In addition to the standard suction inlets and discharge outlets, the front and rear suctions are actually dual purpose. They are plumbed from the pump in three-inch terminating with five-inch Storz fitting and with the flip of a switch at the pump panel, they can be used as outlets. Another unusual feature on this rig is raised/side-mounted pump panel. This particular feature provides the safety and visibility of a conventional top mount pump panel without the increase in wheelbase and overall length created by the walk through area. Further reducing this space is the fact that the pre-connected cross lay compartments are stacked rather than being side by side.

Engine 813 carries a standard complement of NFPA engine company equipment as well as an Amkus extrication package with cutters, spreaders and rams. It also features a Night Scan 4000 watt light tower on the cab roof powered by an AMPS 8kW hydraulic generator, has a pre-piped deck gun with an Apollo Hi-Riser and features ground ladders stored in the rear next to the hose bed. Engine 813 responds first-out during the winter months and on any situation requiring all-wheel drive access.

Although similar in outward appearance due to its paint scheme, Engine 814 is a completely different rig. This two wheel drive pumper was actually built at Sutphen's main facility in Ohio during 1997 and is constructed of extruded aluminum. It features a standard length cab that has a three-inlet monitor mounted on the cab roof. The rear body is painted and by carrying the copper paint back on the body, the aluminum roll up doors were left unpainted. It has the same firefighting package and other features as Engine 813, however it carries 35 gallons each of Class A and Class B foams. During the summer months, Engine 814 responds first-out carrying the extrication equipment that is carried on Engine 813 during the winter.

Truck 818 is a unique Sutphen rebuild of a 1969 model that formerly served Wayne, New Jersey. During the rebuild process, it received a brand new Sutphen cab that features rear entry cab doors. A complete aerial rebuild and recertification was completed along with new bodywork. It has a 1500 GPM pump 300 gallon tank and 85-foot aerial platform. Delivered and titled as a 1996 model it is painted white over red. It replaced the American LaFrance which proved to have significant problems with the aerial device.

Another interesting & unique apparatus operated by the Copper Mountain Fire Department is something that most people wouldn't expect to come out of the Sutphen plant. Delivered in 1998, it is based on a 1997 AM General Hummer. Squad 809 is designed as a multiple purpose unit that responds first out on emergency medical calls and can be used as a command post, for off-road access where conventional apparatus cannot reach as well as for ground cover fires. Painted red, it features a 2000 watt Night Scan light tower on the cab roof that is powered by an inverter. An aluminum enclosure was fabricated by Sutphen for the rear body is painted white and actually has a seating position for a third firefighter. This area can be used as a mobile command post and is also set up to transport a patient on a backboard.  It also features a rather interesting extinguishing package that is the brainchild of Retired Fire Chief Scott Randolph. Realizing that a conventional skid unit might be problematic due to the smaller size of the rear body, a small high pressure pump is utilized that produces 4 GPM at 3000 PSI. Used in conjunction with a 70 gallon water tank and 10 gallons of foam, it has proven to be quite effective for mop up operations on ground cover fires.

As of April 2013, the CMFD has welcomed a new apparatus to their fleet.  It's a converted Ford pickup that now houses a 250 gallon water tank with a fire pump used for Wildland fires.  The new Type V1 engine better prepares the district for Wildland fires and also allows the department to travel throughout the country for Wildfire assignments.

Although the primary mission of the Copper Mountain Fire Department is to ensure the safety of the residents and visitors of the Copper Mountain Resort Community, they are quite active in mutual aid with neighboring departments, not only in responses but in training as well. Plans for the immediate future include securing more personnel due to increased responses and other related responsibilities.

The CMFD is an excellent example of a fire department that is in place to meet the special requirements of the unique area that they protect.



                 How Snowmelt Affects Run-Off and Swift Water in Summit County


Spring has officially blossomed here in Summit County and the signs are everywhere.  Resorts are closing down, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, bikers are biking and snow is disappearing.  Warmer temperatures during the day and less dramatic freezing temperatures at night are creating substantial snow melt across the county.  Rivers, streams and creeks are flowing faster and swifter each and every day, making the buildup to peak run-off a big “what if” to many homeowners, county officials and emergency departments who know the risks associated with the spring melting process.

To date, Copper Mountain Resort has reported 358 inches of snow and Breckenridge Resort has reported 441 inches.  Denver water made a statement earlier this month that the snowpack near Dillon reservoir is about 35% above average.  Just recently the Co weather bureau released information stating that Summit County is the number one county in all of Colorado for flood potential. 

The good news, bad news situation released in February of this year showed that the pine beetle epidemic had slowed dramatically since 2013.  We also learned that the spruce beetles continued to spread and increase their devastation across our forests.  Since 1996, 15 years’ plus worth of the pine beetle epidemic has destroyed over 3.4 million acres of forest here in Summit County.  In that same time span, the spruce beetle has destroyed more than 1.1 million acres of forest.  Combined, more than 4.5 million acres of our forest land has been destroyed by beetles.  We already know about the fire danger implications that this infestation brings to the county, but think about the flood potential.  With 4.5 million less live trees to absorb water run-off and shade the sun from melting snow, a near record snowfall year combined with above average snowpack and mother nature’s yet to be determined month ahead, Summit County is primed and ready for flooding potential during its peak run-off season.  Much of Colorado is still in a drought, but our County is no longer part of that statistic.

In general, peak run-off season for the county is usually late May through the first two weeks of June.  However, you never can tell exactly how the spring temperatures, weather and precipitation (large rain events etc...) will ultimately affect the run-off until it actually occurs.  As the month of May moves forward the spring run-off transforms into full effect.  Rivers, streams and low lying areas fill with water as the mountains melt away the snowy peaks of the winter season.

  The best plan for Summit County residents and guests is to monitor the water flows of the rivers and creeks ( near where you live, keep up to date with the current events/news and talk with local authorities regarding what you can do and what resources will be available for you as the potential for floods arise.  If you are driving eastbound on I-70 between mile marker 195 and 196, you’ll notice the ten mile creek overflowing into the Curtain Ponds (Wheeler Flats area) and lower drainage areas next to the bike path close to the eastbound I-70 slow lane.  Next time you are out walking your dog, commuting to and from work, biking down the bike path or out enjoying the wonderful springtime activities that Summit County has to offer, take an extra few minutes each day and pay attention to the blue river, ten mile creek and all the ponds and low drainages that fill up with spring run-off.  Compare them from day to day and week to week in the next month and you’ll be amazed at the differences you will see.  Peak run-off during the day is usually later in the afternoon into the late evening.  After the sun warms the ambient air temperature and as the topography heats up later in the day, the spring run-off intensifies into the evenings and the rivers and streams begin to rise.  As temperatures cool overnight, the rivers and streams begin to recede and the cycle starts over again.

Rivers and streams can become very dangerous for people and dogs in a big run-off year like the one we are approaching.  CMFD asks everyone to be cognizant and cautious around all water in the upcoming weeks.  As fun as the rivers can be, extreme caution and knowing your limits can go a long way in keeping safe this spring and summer season.  Always wear a PFD and helmet whenever you are within 15 feet of any water source.  Rapid, swift water can create dangerous situations and strainers (a strainer can be anything that lets water pass through, but prevents the passage of a person) are extremely hazardous in any moving water.  Rivers and streams should always be scouted before attempting to use.  Never attempt to cross a stream or river when there is swift moving current.


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Written by Shanin Theiss