Marvin D. Rosencrans
1940 – 2008
The Prowers County Rural Fire Department was formed by the Prowers County Board of County Commissioners October 1, 1990 by resolution. Marvin D. Rosencrans with 30 years of firefighting experience and leadership skills with the Lamar Volunteer Fire Department was chosen to lead this new department as their Chief. One truck, #6521, a 3500-gallon pumper tanker was the only truck at this time and was housed at his longtime business, Cap’s Alignment. The department experienced its first structure fire in October of 1990, which was an attached garage to a home at 7869 Highway 196. The garage sustained heavy fire damage. #6521 was at the local October fest , and with the truck being manned this provided for a quicker response and prevented fire spread into the residence that received moderate smoke damage to one room.
The new department utilized the existing Lamar Volunteers, which later changed their name to the Lamar/Prowers County Volunteers. An additional 7 new volunteers was acquired during its infancy. The volunteers trained once a month and the rural department soon acquired their own station. Up until this time the fire truck was kept at the Chief’s place of business, Cap’s Alignment. The new station which was known as the old “Bunny’s” gas station, was located at 906 North Main where the Subway is now located. A Road & Bridge tanker was also housed at this location and utilized as a tanker/brush truck.
Within a year an additional truck was purchased which was a mini-pumper, #6523, to aid with grass and structure fires. Mutual aid agreements were established with four area departments in the County during this time to assist with fires if local resources were not adequate. Also evolving out of these agreements were strengthened working relationships with outlying departments. Mutual aid extended to our Kansas neighbors in the counties of Stanton and Hamilton.
May 1992 saw the addition of two more apparatus which were both pumpers, #6524 and #6525. These pumpers were originally purchase by the Lamar/Prowers County Volunteers and at a later date Prowers County reimbursed the Volunteers. This required a station with more room and on June 1, 1992 Prowers County entered into an agreement with James Geier to rent a portion of his 9800 square foot building located at 102 North 5th. The remainder of the building was Mr. Geier’s business known as Great Plains Supply. The rent was $300 and included paying for 50% of the utilities and some minor repairs. This location is now owned by the City of Lamar and utilized by the Street Department.
The ongoing search for a permanent fire station continued until 1993 when the Prowers County and the City of Lamar entered into a joint venture to construct a new fire station, located at 300 East Poplar Street, to house both entities’ equipment. This station provided four bays, including a much-needed training room, along with offices for the Lamar/Prowers County Volunteers, Rural Fire Chief and City Fire Department. The project total was $151,609, and $10,000 was contributed by the Volunteers to help with the interior finishing of the station and training room. Construction was completed in 1994.
The department at this point was running approximately 140 calls for service annually with a majority of the calls being grass/rangeland-type fires. A lot of the current used equipment was showing the wear and tear of the call volume and replacement was warranted. In 1997 grant funding assisted with the purchase of #6522 and #6526. This would be the beginning of a vast replacement of apparatus in the department. With the outreach to other departments, two trucks that were located in Lamar were transferred to the Granada Fire Station.
Infrastructure for the Prowers Rural Fire Department was once again needed in the Town of Bristol. With a one-door station and the ambition of the Chief to increase fire protection within Bristol a new station would be needed. With the Town of Bristol not being that of an incorporated entity it was taken on by the Prowers County Commissioners, Rural Fire Chief and Bristol/Granada Volunteers to construct a new 50’ X 50’ fire station. Grant funding was obtained and combined with in-kind contributions. A project estimated at $73,900 became a reality for the Town of Bristol and residents in the area. The 3-bay station is located at 1st and Cline in Bristol and provides an improved response capability in that area. Prowers County financially supports the station and equipment with the local division fire chief providing direction of the department.
The Prowers Rural Fire Department since its inception has taken a special interest in hazardous materials response. To support this endeavor in 2000 the Lamar/Prowers County Volunteers purchased a used haz mat unit from the Colorado State Patrol for $2,500. This greatly improved our ability to assist the C.S.P. Technicians. A short time later a tandem axle trailer was acquired from the Colorado State Patrol.
As the equipment replacement program continued, #6520 was purchased in 2001, which was needed to improve our ISO rating. The existing engines were relocated to the Bristol Station to provide increased protection for that area. In 2002 #245, a pumper/tanker, was purchased for the Bristol/Granada and surrounding areas. The next year, the Bristol/Granada Volunteers obtained grant funding to purchase needed extrication equipment to assist with coverage of US Highways 385, 196 and 50. The placement of this equipment in this area cut 15 to 20 minutes ,if not more, off the response time of the nearest responding agency that had this type of equipment. The Bristol/Granada Volunteers were continually increasing their response capabilities with their proactive measures, attempting to reach a higher level of service. With the majority of calls being that of grass fires, the Bristol/Granada Volunteers warranted a brush truck and took on the challenge of building their own which became a reality in 2004 with the addition of #287 to the fleet.
The large equipment purchase was completed in 2006. With grant assistance two new brush trucks, #6527 and #207, were purchased along with a refurbished tender, #6528. #6527 and #207 are identical twins; one was positioned in Granada and the other one in Lamar.
In 2006 a milestone was accomplished with hazardous materials response within Prowers County. With assistance from Prowers County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Grant funding Prowers County was able to send four personnel to hazardous materials technician school in Pueblo. Prior to this the Colorado State Patrol was heavily depended upon for a majority of the haz mat response. With the addition of certified personnel, this complimented the CSP Techs. This also narrowed the response time locally.
Also during this time Prowers County Rural Fire transitioned from VHF to the new 800 Mhz radio system. Some agencies were reluctant to move over but the radio coverage with the handhelds was much better than the old system. With 90% of the emergency response personnel within the County being comprised of volunteers, handheld radio coverage was a necessity.
In 2007, the Chief that had started all of this, Marvin D. Rosencrans, suddenly succumbed to a stroke. The Department continued business with interim Chief Staffon Warn, who was the Lamar/Prowers County Volunteer Chief. Personnel continued with vigilance that their chief would return, and watched him gradually progress then return home.
In 2008, a retirement gathering was held for Chief Rosencrans after his return, then in February the Prowers County Commissioners appointed Staffon Warn Chief of the department with 27 years of experience, as well as the County Emergency Manager. A majority of Staffon’s training and experience came from under the direction of Chief Rosencrans. With heavy hearts on November 8, 2008, with various departments representing agencies from the region, Chief Rosencrans was laid to rest with the highest honors and respect that he so well-deserved.