Technician Jeff Billingsley working behind the scenes at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House
DFD Technician Jeff Billingsley working behind the scenes at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House

An agreement between the Denver Fire Department (DFD) and Denver’s Arts and Venues Department calls for firefighters to be assigned to the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC) to ensure compliance with safety and fire codes, and to be the first responders in the case of an emergency at the Complex.
However, they’ve had an unintended additional duty: assisting theatre goers who have mobility issues to get from the street to their seat. Firefighters have a duty to provide care from beginning to end, and have willingly provided assistance upon request. But when a patron in an area of the DPAC suffered a seizure, a member of the DFD Team was assisting another patron in a wheelchair and was not able to respond. At that point, it was clear that the Denver Fire Department and Denver’s Arts and Venues Department had to come up with another plan to meet the needs of their customers.

To meet this need, a multidisciplinary group of City and County of Denver employees discovered that they could use one of Arts and Venues’ existing contractors to assist patrons with their accessibility needs.

“This new policy is the culmination of months of coordination between the DPAC and the Fire Department.  Bringing Sharon Davis from Worker’s Compensation, Lori Strand from the City Attorney’s Office, and Debra Gomez from Human Rights and Community Partnerships was the catalyst and gave us the teeth that made this happen.  This change in the way we do business increases efficiency but most of all allows us to provide a more effective service to the venue and ultimately, the citizens.”
-Captain Scott Buccieri, Denver Fire Department

Using the existing contractor comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, meets the needs of DPAC patrons, and frees up an estimated $25,670 annually in firefighters’ time. Now, our firefighters are fully available to provide life safety services for the property and its patrons.

Technician Jeff Billingsley working behind the scenes at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House
DFD Technician Jeff Billingsley working behind the scenes at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House

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