History of GHAVFD
Glen Haven, Colorado is a small mountain community consisting primarily of summer family cabins and year-round homes in southern Larimer County, Colorado. The "Glen" is accessed from U.S. Highway 34 (passing through the famous Big Thompson Canyon) about 15 miles west of Loveland, Colorado by turning right on Larimer County Road 43 once you have reached the community of Drake. The County road is also known as Devil's Gulch Road, a name given the route by early settlers due to the narrow, steep canyon through which it travels for most of its 16 miles.
Located 7 miles north of the tourist town of Estes Park (i.e. the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park), Glen Haven is surrounded by the Roosevelt/Arapaho National Forest and the Comanche Peaks Wilderness Area.
Settled around the turn of the twentieth century, the Glen Haven area was for many years home to a very few brave souls who traveled the precarious route by horse and wagon. Over the years, several resort-type hotels and cabin facilities were built to accommodate a slowly growing tourist trade. Many of these facilities fell victim to fires and were totally destroyed.
In 1964, the residents organized the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department and sought funding assistance to begin to acquire apparatus. Largely self trained, the department relied heavily on the assistance of the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department for mutual aid assistance. In 1966, a lightning strike caused a wild land fire in the immediate vicinity of many of the homes and cabins in the Glen. Firefighters from Glen Haven, Estes Park, the National Park Service, National Forest Service and the Larimer County Sheriff's Department battled the blaze with hand-crews and air tankers and successfully extinguished the fire with no loss of structures or life. The incident was a "wake-up call" for area residents as it became apparent that the newly formed Fire Department needed much more equipment and training.
The next "wake-up call" occurred in the summer of 1976 when the infamous Big Thompson Flood struck the Big Thompson Canyon and the Devil's Gulch areas. Over 140 people were killed, many more injured and an almost incalculable loss of property suffered in what was the worst natural disaster in the state's history. It became apparent that the Fire Department would again have to grow in order to become effective in large natural disasters. Over the next 20 years, Department membership slowly grew, apparatus was acquired and updated, training formalized and the department's effectiveness improved. During the early 1990's the Department was reorganized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Funding opportunities were (and still are) sought after as the costs of operation increased. The Department currently operates 7 pieces of apparatus out of two fire house locations with approximately 24 active volunteers. This is accomplished with a total budget amounting to about what one career firefighter would earn in salary in one year.
Through the years, the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department has continually set goals to better serve the community. An enhanced Emergency Medical Response capability was begun in the early 1990's. At that time, 7 Glen Haven volunteers entered the Emergency Medical Technician (Basic) (EMT-B) training program being offered through the Estes Park Medical Center. That effort has continued on and today the Department's EMT's and first responders continue to offer quality emergency medical intervention for local residents and visitors.
On September 12, 2013, the entire front range of Colorado experienced a replay of the devastating Big Thompson Flood, but on a much larger scale. Glen Haven was devastated by the 2013 Flood, and recovery efforts continue to this day. The GHAVFD played a critical role both during and after the flood. Acting as the lead agency in the recovery effort, the GHAVFD was responsible for the safe evacuation of dozens of people out of the immediate area. Dedicated firefighters manned the newly built Firehouse #1 as their old "home" was sent hurtling downstream in the flood waters. Their dedication to the community and fierce determination became the model for coordination as the Department took on the role of coordinating everything from re-establishing power to rebuilding the many destroyed roads. The Fire Station became the center of activity and the main source of information for the press, the community, and state and local government officials.
The Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department is a critical part of the emergency response community throughout southern Larimer County. The Department works closely with the Colorado State Patrol, Larimer County Sheriff's Department, Larimer County Emergency Services, the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Estes Valley Fire Protection District, Loveland Rural Fire Protection District, Estes Park Ambulance Service and other agencies to continue to provide emergency response to the Glen Haven community and the entire Estes Valley.