The first female fire chief in Golden’s history is moving on. In June, Alicia Welch notified the city that she had taken as a job as the chief of the Lompoc Fire Department in her home state of …
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The first female fire chief in Golden’s history is moving on.
In June, Alicia Welch notified the city that she had taken as a job as the chief of the Lompoc Fire Department in her home state of California.
Welch, who has been with the department for just a bit more than 2 1/2 years, said the decision was motivated by her desire to be closer to her aging parents so she can more easily help with them.
“Leaving Golden is definitely not an easy decision at all,” she said. “We’ve done so much good work together and really advanced this department into the future. But for me, this was a family decision.”
Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz said Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Stricker will serve as an interim fire chief after Welch leaves at the end of July. Lorentz said the city is working on next steps but does not have a timeline for making the new hire.
During her time with the department, Welch said the department was able to significantly improve the equipment used by its personnel. Those improvements include the purchase of new radios and computers for all of the firetrucks and new uniforms for every member of the department.
Welch said she also made community engagement a goal when she came to the department and feels the department has progressed significantly in that regard.
In particular, the department’s members have spent significant time canvassing Golden’s trailer parks to provide free smoke-alarm tests and replacements as well as home escape planning.
“We’ve done that work because we know those homes are difficult to get out of in fire conditions,” she said.
Welch also implemented a diversity and inclusion initiative. As part of that initiative, Welch said the department now does quarterly diversity training and has adapted its promotional process to attract a more diverse workforce, which she believes is better able to serve the Golden community. She said she is proud of how the department’s members “
The department was also highlighted in a guide to best diversity and inclusion practices produced by the National Association of Fire Chiefs based on an analysis conducted of Golden and six other similar departments.
“Our little fire department is kind of recognized on the national stage now for being a progressive and inclusive department,” she said. “Those are some of the things I hope continue on after I leave.”
However, Welch said she feels one of the department’s biggest successes has been its weathering of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through that year-and-a-half, we had two incidents where we had a number of folks who had to be off. But we were able to maintain our service, and we never compromised our ability to be able to respond to the community,” she said.
But while Welch is proud of the current direction of the department, she said there is still work to be done. In particularly, she said she remains concerned that the department does not have sufficient staffing levels to keep up with the city’s growth and hopes it will continue to expand.
She said that while the department’s main station on 10th Street is now staffed full time, the station in South Golden is staffed only about 1/3 to ½ of the time.
“I think that just based on the demands that we have in our community and, sometimes, our neighboring departments needing help, we feel like those stations should be staffed full-time and augmented by our amazing volunteer workforce,” she said.
The city of Golden also praised Welch in a statement:
“In just a few short years under her command, the department has achieved significant progress and improvements in service, and has made strides toward more consistent staffing to serve the growing call volumes in Golden… Perhaps most importantly, she has spent considerable time and energy strengthening the relationship between Golden Fire Department, its members, and the Golden community.”
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