Birth of a Fire Department and the First Alarm
In March of 1963 a determined band of soldiers from Lowry Air Force Base, Buckley (then a Colorado Air National Guard Base), and local residents joined with the intent of forming a fire district in east Aurora. On their third attempt in the ensuing months, and after significant hardships and trials, the Sable-Altura Volunteer Fire Department was born. It was a non-tax-supported fire unit, and existed on a few donations and sheer determination. On July 29, 1963 at 2:45 am, the Sable Altura Volunteer Fire Department answered its very first alarm.
The department had acquired a used 1,000 gallon pumper that it had to make operational, and were using loaned axes, hose, and extinguishers.
Formation of a Special District (1970’s)
Prior to this time, the Sable Altura Volunteer Fire Department existed on donations of equipment and money, and subscription services to residents. Knowing that this was an unstable source of income and equipment, the department made a move to form the Sable Altura Fire Protection District effectively creating a tax-supported district. This provided a stable and consistent source of funds for yearly operations.
Change of Direction (1980’s and early 90’s)
In the 80’s the department moved the headquarters from 17th and Jasper to a new station at its present location. The department also built a second station at 56th and Buckley. In the early 90’s, the Board of Directors asked the Cunningham Fire Protection District (a long time friend of the Sable Altura Fire Department), to assume primary response duties within the Sable Altura Fire District. The volunteers of Sable Altura were still responding in a cooperative manner with Cunningham. By contract however, Cunningham was the primary fire agency for the District. It was during this time that Denver International Airport entering service and Cunningham sold Station No. 2 to the city of Denver to make room for the new highway, Pena Boulevard. Once the Cunningham contract had expired, the Board of Directors decided to return the responsibilities of emergency response back over to the Sable Altura Fire Department.
Progression (Late 90’s to Current)
Soon, the model of a "separate" Sable Altura Volunteer Fire Department working within the district becomes obsolete as the Fire District assumes the responsibilities of fire response.
A historic ballot initiative in 2006 secured a major bond for the District to purchase updated apparatus, equipment, and for training, but could not be used for personnel. In 2007, a “paradigm shift” in operations occurs within the department as it focuses on education and training. The Sable Altura Fire Academy grows and is clearly defined in that it's curriculum reaches 4 1/2 months. EMS training expands as SAFD becomes it's own Training Group under the State of Colorado. SAFD reshapes itself on a new foundation with a passion for education and implementing new strategies for emergency response.
Sable Altura Fire Protection District is not without it's challenges. Sable Altura relies heavy on a dedicated, disciplined, and very well-trained volunteer staff. However, nationally "volunteerism" is down, and there is little in our culture to drive people to sacrifice the time and energy as there used to be. For Sable it's especially difficult, as we have become quite demanding of a volunteer recruit both physically and mentally. For almost five months they are drilled and trained before they even can step on a rig. This eliminates a lot of well-intentioned people throughout the process unfortunately. However, our mission is to respond to any hazard for our citizenry with the best trained emergency response professionals that we can.
Sable contnues to look at its current and future challenges with the same determination that began over fifty years ago when a ragged group of men and women took out their own hammers to build a fire station, and a District.
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