Ronald Benson: Wheat Ridge Fire Protection Board Candidate

We have interviewed candidates for the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District Board. The City of Edgewater is part of the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District. The election deadline is coming up on May 6, 2014. This election is all mail-in. For a full list of the board candidates and Ballot Issue A, click here.

Leonard (Lenny) Ortiz Interview

Robert “Kent” Johnson Interview

Monica Duran Interview

James “Jim” Johnson Interview

Today we are interviewing Ronald “Ron” Benson, who is a candidate for the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District Board.

Why are you running for the WRFPD Board? 

One year ago I was asked to consider running for an appointment for a one year. Kent and I were picked to fill the vacancies. I have learned a lot and we have been through a lot. I have had a very rich year in this role. I have really enjoyed it.

In your opinion, what caused the financial crisis the WRFPD is currently facing? 

One of them is that a couple of years ago the city was awarded a Safer grant and added full time staff. Now the grant money has run out. One of the issues is how do we maintain service when we don’t have the money to maintain it. We could apply for another grant or cut staff. These are hard decisions to make. Part of it was a perfect storm of firemen being hurt and workman’s comp claims and overtime to cover those vacancies. Third was the severance package for the former chief. The current model with 7 mills cannot match the expense model. The increase in the mill is for capital expenses including a new firehouse in Edgewater and updating ladder trucks and equipment.

What options does the Fire District have if the mill levy is not passed? 

I am hopeful that it will pass. If it does not pass, one option is to merge with West Metro or Arvada. Second option would be a substantial reduction in staff.

What are the immediate changes, if any, would you like to see in the how the District functions?

One is already being implemented in retaining Pinnacle for payroll and accounting. It is done in a much more professional manner. I would like to see a study on how to expand the district to the north up to I-70. The area from the creek to I-70 should be considered part of the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District.

Where do you see the WRFPD in five years, and how will it get there?  

In talking to other districts there are always serious growing pains going from a volunteer staff to an all paid staff. Going forward we will be much more structured. The new chief, Chief Olme is a good leader and has a great vision. The District will be in good place. Capital projects will move forward and be completed.

1 Comment on "Ronald Benson: Wheat Ridge Fire Protection Board Candidate"

  1. Taylor Owen | Apr 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply

    Ron Benson has my vote. He is smart, collaborative, visionary and a great leader. You couldn’t ask for a better candidate.

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