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It’s Safety First at Cordillera Ranch with Bergheim Volunteer Fire Department

By Julie Catalano  ::  Photography by Kelsey Grudle

Exciting safety improvements are happening at Cordillera Ranch with the help of the Bergheim Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD), starting with a brand-new pumper/tender truck on order and scheduled for delivery in the fall.

“The Insurance Services Office (ISO) requires Bergheim VFD to have three class A pumper fire engines to serve the fire load of the 56 square mile area that we cover,” says Adam Hawkins, BVFD fire chief. “This new truck will give us the third.” The department received a $200,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service to help pay for the new fire engine.

In addition, finishing touches are being put on a new satellite station off of Cordillera Trace toward Kreutzberg in the area of Crested Butte. Among other improvements, “It needs a slab put in to support the weight of a full fire truck,” says Hawkins. 

With the new truck and new station, “Every response area of the Bergheim VFD will be within five road miles of a fire station,” he adds, thus fulfilling the objective of the ISO of three stations and three engines: the main station outside the main entrance gate of Cordillera Ranch, the satellite near the FM3351 Cordillera Ranch gate, and the new satellite on the west side of Cordillera Ranch.

Residents might also notice a number of new black hydrant-like structures appearing in the eastern portion of Cordillera Ranch along Rio Cordillera and other side streets off of it. “Those are flush valves, not fire hydrants,” explains Hawkins. “They look and function the same way as regular hydrants but are called flush valves and painted black because they do not meet the minimum fire flow requirements of a fire hydrant.” Red fire hydrants have to meet and maintain a certain flow rate of GPM (gallons per minute) and water pressure.

Still, the new flush valves, being installed by the Cordillera Ranch POA, with the help of the developer, will be a huge improvement to the BFVD’s ability to fight fires, says Hawkins, and will help the department operate more efficiently. “As firefighters we recognize that these black flush valves are water sources that we can hook up our equipment to and can fill our brush trucks or engines from it.” From there, firefighters then employ their standard water shuttle operations to move that water to the area of the fire.

“We’re really excited about this and appreciate the initiative and work that the developer and the Cordillera Ranch POA are putting into adding this safety enhancement to the community,” says Hawkins. “It will save us from having to drive four or five more miles round trip to a more distant water source when every minute counts.”

For residents wondering if or how any of this affects their homeowner insurance rates, that remains to be seen. The ISO reviews and analyzes fire departments across the country and assigns Public Protection Classification (PPC) ratings from 1 (best) to 10 (worst).

“Right now, we are at an ISO rating of 4/10,” says Hawkins. “Once we get the new engine and get all the engines in place at their respective locations, we will bring the ISO out and they will re-rate us.”

Generally, the better the rating the lower the premium; however, that can vary among insurance companies as not all insurance companies use these ratings. Residents should check with their insurance companies when writing or renewing their homeowner’s policy.

The new engine arriving at year-end joins seven other vehicles, for a total of eight in the BVFD fleet: 

   “First-out” pumper/tender dual purpose truck — an engine with water-carrying capabilities. This is Engine 31.

  Straight Class A engine with water-carrying capacity of 1,250 gallons and a 1,250 GPM pump.

  Tender truck whose full function is to be a tender.

  Two brush trucks for grass fires; also first responder vehicles to assist EMS on medical runs.

  Squad truck as first responder vehicle.

  Command truck that attends every incident; also used as first responder vehicle for medical.

  New pumper/tender scheduled for delivery in Fall 2019. This will be Engine 33.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year, Bergheim VFD is the first responder to fire and emergency calls in eastern Kendall County. A $200,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service will pay for about one-third of the new pumper/tender, and fundraising efforts have already begun for the remaining approximately $400,000, not counting the additional $100,000 for truck equipment and firefighter gear. The department plans to embark on a virtual capital campaign (no brick-and-mortar fundraising event this time) with a mailout, newsletters and other information on how to get involved.

For more information on the Bergheim VFD, including helpful FAQs, go to http://www.bergheimvfd.org.

REMINDER from BVFD Fire Chief Adam Hawkins to the Cordillera Ranch community: “In case of medical emergencies, do not contact the Bergheim VFD or drive to the unmanned main station. That will cause a delay in getting help. Please call 911.”