Golder Ranch Fire District serving with strong hands and caring hearts

Ryan Szach, fire Fighter/EMT, on a ladder about to replace batteries in a smoke detector while Randy Schulzkump, engineer/EMT, holds the ladder; Photo by Steve Weiss

Ryan Szach, fire Fighter/EMT, on a ladder about to replace batteries in a smoke detector while Randy Schulzkump, engineer/EMT, holds the ladder; Photo by Steve Weiss

The fire fighters at a training session where they are learning the proper procedures to extinguish a vehicle blaze; Photo by Steve Weiss

The fire fighters at a training session where they are learning the proper procedures to extinguish a vehicle blaze; Photo by Steve Weiss

Marlene Diskin

Golder Ranch Fire District (GRFD) marks its 40th anniversary this year. It was started by Lloyd Golder on November 15, 1977 as a volunteer fire district with one station. Much has changed over the years, and the district is no longer volunteer driven. It now has eight stations, employs 192 people, and services 222 square miles with a population of almost 60,000 residents that includes Oro Valley, Catalina, Southern Pinal County, SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch. It also has the distinction of being the only fire district that serves two counties, Pima and Pinal. Additionally it works collaboratively with other fire districts in the area when necessary. GRFD is a government entity funded by tax dollars and is overseen by a five-member Board, on which each member serves alternating four-year terms.

“My number one priority as the Fire Chief is effective and efficient response of fire and emergency services. It is my philosophy that if someone calls 911 they should receive the best possible care in the quickest amount of time, period,” said Randy Karrer, Fire Chief.

While fire suppression and emergency medical services comprise a majority of the calls received by the District, there are some valuable additional services available to district residents. They include, but are not limited to:

a. Smoke detector battery changes with batteries provided by residents.

b. Snake removal; when requesting this service the resident should call 911 and state it is not an emergency.

c. Lock Box. For $65 a resident can purchase a secure box that they will install outside their front door. It will hold a copy of the home key. The key will then be used by firefighters to enter the home in the event of an emergency.

d. CPR and First Aid classes: GRFD offers American Heart Association classes on the third Saturday of the month for $50. It is also possible to arrange for group trainings. For information call 520-825-5920.

e. Vehicle and home lock out assistance

f. Blood pressure checks at the fire stations.

g. Home Safety Reviews: fall/trip and slip hazards assessment and wildland abatement suggestions. Call 520-818-1017 to schedule.

h. File of Life: a small medical history that a resident keeps current and places in a red magnet on the refrigerator. First responders will use this when responding to the home for a medical emergency to gain additional information about medical history including prescriptions. Forms and magnets can be obtained at the fire station.

i. Ambulance Service Membership Plan: EMS Membership is a way to protect you and your loved ones from the unexpected cost of emergency ambulance transport. The current Arizona Department of Health Services regulated cost of an emergency ambulance transport in Golder Ranch Fire District is well over $1,000. Depending on your insurance plan, the cost of ambulance transportation may not be covered fully. When this occurs (or if you are uninsured) you will be responsible for the remainder of the fees from the ambulance transport. Golder Ranch Fire District has implemented an EMS Membership Program that has been approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services that offers you protection from those fees. It will cover you and any other household members for medically necessary ambulance transportation to the hospital for just $87.69 per household per year.

j. Community Integrated Healthcare Program was implemented in 2014 to achieve the goals of improving the overall health of the community and right sizing care of patients through the CIHP. GRFG provides residents one-on-one in-home care by trained professionals. The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for residents who are referred by GRFD EMTs and Paramedics, or were recently discharged from Oro Valley Hospital or Northwest Medical Center following admission for the treatment of: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, diabetes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), or pneumonia.

GRFD has been rerated by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and obtained a Protection Classification of 2/10. What this means is that if your home is within five miles of the nearest fire station and is within 1,000 feet of the nearest fire hydrant this new rating may be applicable to your homeowner’s insurance policy. This became effective on July 1, 2016. You may want to contact your insurance carrier and discuss with them if this new rating may apply to your home. If in fact it does, a verification letter may be requested through the Fire and Life Safety Division of GRFD. Contact 520-818-1017 for assistance.

Golder Ranch also maintains special operations teams in the areas of Hazardous Materials, Technical Rescue and Wildland Firefighting. Personnel in these areas of expertise receive additional training and attend monthly drills to maintain skill proficiency.

All firefighters are EMTs. Every station has a paramedic who can administer drugs. Every fire truck is manned by an EMT and a paramedic and can serve as an ambulance when responding to an emergency.

“Residents often ask why they can’t contact their local station as opposed to calling 911. The reason is this: 911 is responsible for deploying staff and resources based on the needs of the caller with life safety being the top priority,” said Anne-Marie Braswell, Community Relations Manager of GRFD. “The more information you can give to the 911 operator, the more efficiently and effectively you can be served,” she added.

A Day in the Life of a Firefighter

Firefighters in the GRFD work 10 full days a month in three-day shifts, each followed by four days off. When on duty firefighters are required to participate in physical training during every shift. They do their own food shopping and meal preparation with an eye toward creating high protein/low fat food.

“After all, they always have to be ready to respond to a call so they need to stay in shape and be sharp,” Anne-Marie said. “If you ever run into them shopping, you’ll see them buying lean meats, fruits and vegetables. They try to stay away from too many sweets and fattening foods but do enjoy an occasional baked good from friendly residents,” she added.

If you want to show your appreciation to the men and women who serve us, you may drop off a healthy gift of food, home baked goods, or even leftovers from a party. Also greatly appreciated are donations to the North Tucson Firefighters Association, Local 3832. The Association supports charitable works in the area and has a strong focus on the foster care program.

As you can see from this brief summary of GRFD services, we are very fortunate to have this wonderful facility in our community.