VFES responds to all fire related incidents in the Town of Vail. VFES also provides and receives automatic aid from the Eagle River Fire Protection District (ERFPD) utilizing a closest unit dispatching model . Closest unit dispatching assures that the closest unit is always dispatched to an emergency regardless of jurisdiction.. Both VFES and ERFPD utilize the Blue Card Command system providing a seamless integration of on-scene resources during fire incidents. VFES is an official Blue Card Training Center for the region.
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 and vehicle accidents 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 type 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 VFES engines provide basic life support 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 required to be certified at the Haz Mat First Responder Operations level. Each shift also has personnel certified at the Hazardous Materials Technician level. Hazardous materials 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. Technician level operations include specialized equipment and techniques to offensively mitigate a hazardous materials emergency. Vail Fire and Emergency Services is a member of the Regional Hazardous Materials Association of Eagle County (RHMAEC). RHMAEC maintains a hazardous materials response vehicle equipped for advanced hazardous materials operations. In addition to equipment, VFES may request personnel from RHMAEC participating agencies to assist with a Haz Mat incident.
VFES personnel are trained to respond to a variety of challenging technical rescues within the Town of Vail and on public lands surrounding the Town. The major technical rescue disciplines include high angle rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, and ice 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. Gore Creek is home to a weekly whitewater race as well as the Mountain 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.
VFES has three stations staffed by full-time firefighters working a 48-hour shift on one of three shifts. Daily staffing consists of 9-10 personnel operating out of three stations, under the supervision of a Battalion Chief. Each station has a Lieutenant (Company Officer), an Engineer (driver operator) and one or two Firefighters. All VFES front line engines are equipped to handle a variety of emergency calls including fires, rescue, extrication, basic hazardous materials, and EMS.
Station 1 is located at 4116 Columbine Drive in East Vail. It is home to Engine Company 1 and is the first arriving crew to the East Vail area and Vail Pass. Additionally, our reserve ladder truck is housed at station 1.
Station 2 is located at 42 West Meadow Drive in Vail Village. It is home to Engine Company 2 and is the first arriving crew to the Vail Village, Lionshead, and surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, Station 2 houses Brush 2 staffed by the VFES seasonal wildland crew.
Station 3 is located at 2399 North Frontage Road West in the West Vail area. It is home to Engine Company 3 (which also cross-staffs Tower 3) and Battalion 3. Company 3 is the first arriving crew in the West Vail area and provides auto-aid support for the ERFPD. Additional equipment housed at Station 3 includes Brush 3, the Vail Public Safety Communications Center (VPSCC) mobile communications unit (MCU), and several staff vehicles. Station 3 is also our administrative headquarters which includes the Fire Chief, Fire Marshal, Wildland Coordinator, and an administrative assistant.