After a little over a year of planning, financing and partnerships, Cave Creek officially opened its own fire station and received the first call from dispatch Monday, Jan. 3.
“This is the culmination of over a year’s efforts to evaluate and improve the services for the town’s residents and business owners,” said Jim Ford, the new director of community risk reduction for Cave Creek. “We are happy to have come to an agreement with Daisy Mountain Fire District to provide these services for the community.”
Mayor Ernie Bunch and Brian Moore, Daisy Mountain Fire District board chairman, made opening remarks. They were joined by councilmembers, firefighters, residents, business owners and representatives from community organizations. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the piece of fabric was saved for the Cave Creek Museum.
In addition to the ceremony, there was an open house for visitors.
Cave Creek previously contracted with Rural Metro for fire protection services. However, after two major fires in 2020 and prompting from neighboring fire departments, the town decided to join the automatic aid system. That means the closest department would respond to an emergency, regardless of municipal boundaries, resulting in quicker response times.
“It’s obvious from two years ago just how bad fires can get,” Bunch said. “When you’re the mayor and you’re watching the big aircraft dumping retardant on your town and the helicopter dipping from the ponds and trying to control it — that’s a pretty scary thing.”
Cave Creek had to start from scratch for fire services, but Bunch said staff developed a fire department in less than a year. Through an intergovernmental agreement with Scottsdale, Ford came to assist Cave Creek in its mission to join automatic aid.
In the past year, the town registered for an official fire department ID, entered an agreement with the department of forestry and fire management, evaluated cost estimates, discussed financial options, purchased a facility for their fire department, partnered with Daisy Mountain Fire to hire and train up to 15 firefighters for the town and approved the purchase of fire and brush trucks.
“I think we’re better prepared now for things that happen in that we’ve got four people on a truck as opposed to three, and two of them are medically trained. And, hopefully, we’ll have the support of the regional automatic aid system which is key,” Bunch said.
While Ford has been instrumental in the development of the fire department, he has repeatedly said credit should be given to dozens of others who made it happen. He said neighboring fire departments and community leaders helped along the way. In fact, the station might not have opened if it weren’t for their help.
“We’ve gotten tremendous support from the region,” Ford said. “They’ve just been terrific and helped us along. Right now, with all the supply chain issues, it’s hard to get stuff and if we didn’t have something already purchased, it has been loaned to us to make sure that we’re up and running and ready to serve the community. They have been such a tremendous help to us, we couldn’t have done it without all the support.”
This was an impressive step forward for Cave Creek, but Ford said there is still work to do. The next step is to present its qualifications to the Life Safety Council, which determines what municipalities are eligible for joining the regional automatic aid system. Ford said he looks to show that the town’s new fire department will bring value to the community and will continue to try to grow and improve.
“I’m very proud and I’m very thankful and grateful to the town of Cave Creek, it’s elected officials, citizens and visitors that have the faith and confidence in us to provide the best possible emergency fire and medical service,” Moore said at the opening ceremony.