A massive blaze north of the Tomah Road campgrounds in 1963 provided the impetus to form a fire department in Larkspur. The fire was difficult to fight and was at times out-of-control. After that experience there was broad consensus that a fire department was necessary to prevent another similar occurrence. A committee was formed which eventually led to an election and the establishment of the Larkspur Fire Protection District.
The next order of business was to acquire fire apparatus and equipment. Initially, the equipment was pretty minimal – a chemical tank on a cart, pulled by two or more people (see photo). The first fire truck – a forestry truck donated from the City of Fort Collins – was a 4-wheel drive military pickup mounted with a 200 gallon tank and a low capacity pump. It took an entire day to get it from Fort Collins to Larkspur because it broke down all the way home.
Funding was nonexistent, so money for the truck was obtained through a loan. A parcel of ground for a station was donated and more borrowed money was used to build the first station. The original fire house was a 3-bay building that eventually grew to 6 bays, with a meeting room added on a second floor. In the early days it was typical that the men who were volunteers went to work during the day while their spouses remained at home. This left a gap in response coverage that the women stepped in to fill. These women volunteers became the department’s primary first responders during this period. In fact, the women and one elderly gentleman were the first to fight a fire with the new truck.
A big change came in 1997 when commercial ambulance services were no longer available to provide time-critical advanced life support and transport to hospitals. The district adapted by hiring firefighters and paramedics and eventually staffing three shifts, with paramedic ambulances at two stations. The main station,161 in Larkspur, was upgraded in 2010. This provided additional individual living quarters, administrative offices, storage and mechanical areas, and a firefighter gymnasium. The Perry Park station,162, was also upgraded to provide similar accommodations.
From its humble beginnings, the staffing of the Larkspur Fire Protection District has grown from just a handful of citizens to 14 full-time line staff personnel, eight part-time personnel, 32 volunteer personnel, three Command Staff/Administrative personnel, one full-time Administrative Assistant, and one part-time bookkeeper. The district’s well trained staff is capable of mitigating a wide variety of emergency situations ranging from structure fires, wildland fires, and hazardous material incidents to medical emergencies requiring advanced life support and ambulance transport.