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VFES responds to all fire related incidents in the Town of Vail. With normal daily staffing of 9-10 personnel, our response to structure fires is aided by resources from the Eagle River Fire Protection District (ERFPD). VFES provides mutual aid and is part of the first alarm assignment for a number of areas within ERFPD response area. VFES along with ERFPD use the Blue Card Command system. VFES is an official Blue Card training center. All Vail Firefighters are trained to the Firefighter I level. Firefighters are required to obtain Firefighter II within their first year of employment. Company Officers are required to obtain Fire Officer I certification.
VFES responds to a high volume of vehicle fires due to the presence of the I-70 corridor in our response area. Each year, there are a number of significant semi-truck fires which typically result from over-heated brakes due to the long, steep descent from Vail Pass.
Although Vail is well known for winter recreation opportunities, a significant wildfire threat can exist from the late spring through the fall. All Vail firefighters have a minimum wildland fire qualification of Firefighter Level II. During the fire season, a seasonal wildfire crew is staffed, which provides for additional wildland response capacity. The wildland crew also conducts wildfire mitigation activities such as chipping, forest thinning and defensible space evaluations.
All engines provide emergency medical services and respond to all medical emergencies to help stabilize the sick and injured along with Eagle County Paramedic Services. Every Vail firefighter is a certified emergency medical technician.
All Vail firefighters are certified at the Haz Mat First Responder Operations level. Haz Mat response has the goal of protecting lives, property and the environment. First Responder Operations level actions include: isolating the scene, identifying the materials involved, initiating protective actions (evacuation or shelter in place), and taking defensive actions to limit the spread of the hazardous material. Decontamination of victims and responders may also be conducted. Vail Fire and Emergency Services is a member of the Regional Hazardous Materials Association of Eagle County (RHMAEC). RHMAEC maintains a cache of equipment necessary for advanced hazardous materials operations. In addition to equipment, VFES may request personnel from RHMAEC participating agencies to assist with a Haz Mat incident.
The major technical rescue disciplines provided by VFES are swiftwater, ice and rope rescue.
Gore Creek is a prominent feature in Vail. In addition to a man-made white-water skills park, Gore Creek has a number of challenging rapids. Core Creek is home to a weekly whitewater race as well as the Go Pro Games. After the spring run-off, Gore Creek is enjoyed by recreational tubers and rafters. All Vail firefighters are trained in swiftwater rescue techniques.
Vail is home to a number of ponds which freeze in the winter. The strength and stability of the ice on the ponds can be difficult to evaluate, especially during the fall and winter months. All Vail firefighters are trained to conduct ice rescues.
The Town of Vail is situated in a steep valley. This topography results in steep roadside embankments and icefalls which are popular with sport climbers. Rope rescue techniques may be required for a variety of incidents, ranging from vehicles that have gone over the embankment to injured ice climbers. The majority of Vail firefighters are trained to the rope rescue technician level. Those who are not rope rescue technicians have been trained in basic rope rescue skills and techniques.