Idaho Springs says fire trucks are ready to launch in an emergency despite construction

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 00:30:16-05

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Despite construction right in front of the Idaho Springs Fire Department, the mayor says the city is prepared for emergencies and able to launch the fire trucks when necessary.  

"We have thought this plan out long and hard, this is not something that we went into blind," Mayor Mike Hillman said. "We have a plan in place, we have an open line of communication and we believe we're providing a safe way for fire to get in and out of this building." 

"How do you coordinate all that? Fires are emergencies," nearby restaurant owner Peg Wittman asked.

Wittman's restaurant, Sunshine Express, is located down the street from the fire station on Colorado Boulevard.

She has been closed for business most days during the more than a year of construction.

"I've not been able to make a living," she said. "They closed the street in both directions."

While heavy machinery is tearing up the road in front of her restaurant, it's the same story at the fire station.

But Mayor Hillman said they have worked with the contractor to make sure the fire engines can launch at any time. When they can't, the city has a plan in place to make sure firefighters can respond quickly to an emergency.

"We would pull the fire trucks out here and store them somewhere close by outside, but we don't want to do that all the time -- it's not good for the fire trucks," Hillman said.

Fire Chief Kelly Babeon said he has only had to move a truck outside the station once, and only for three hours. He also said he is in constant communication with the contractor and normally if one side is blocked the fire engines can got out the other direction.

"We're building our infrastructure, it's all about planning for the future," Hillman said. "The city of Idaho springs has never had a storm drain in it. We replaced -- some of the lines were 100 years old -- water and sewer."

Mayor Hillman is asking for patience, but a year and-a-half later, Wittman's is running out.

"Why do I need to be shut down in both directions for a year and-a-half, why has it been like this for a year-and-a-half?" she asked.

Wittman will have to wait until at least the end of June 2018 when the project is expected to be complete.