two firefighters, male, standing at a booth table where a woman is sitting down at a laptop

South Adams County Fire Engages Staff with Resource Fair

The South Adams County Fire Protection District is an essential emergency service provider that serves part of the Denver metropolitan area. As a provider of life-saving services, South Adams County Fire recognizes that employee well-being and safety are vital for the success of the organization. To that end, they organize an annual resource fair for their staff of 108 employees, which has become a much-anticipated event for the organization.

This event, which started in 2019 and is held annually in the springtime, is a combination of all the resources offered to employees, presented by vendors that work with South Adams County Fire. It aims to bring the whole team together in a more collaborative way, from the administrative department all the way to the firefighters on the frontlines. The resource fair is an exciting event because it brings together the parts of the department that might not work directly with each other and creates one big collaborative event.

Melissa Rossback, Human Resources for South Adams County Fire Protection District, has played an integral role in the organization of the resource fair. She explains that the resource fair is a combination of all the resources offered to their employees, presented by vendors that work with South Adams County Fire.

“It includes anyone that does business with us or contracts with us,” Rossback says. “If there are additional questions or needs, employees can use this time to ask. Sometimes we just include people we could do business with, such as a financial advisor, which benefits HR and accounting, or realtors, mortgage companies, and even credit unions. Every year it gets a little bit bigger, a little bit better.”

The resource fair is an excellent way for South Adams County Fire to highlight their organization’s goals and purpose and show an investment in their staff and their staff’s lives.

“I think that really the overlap is to make sure the employees are equipped with the tools they need professionally and personally,” Rossback said. “Some are young and might not know certain things, such as retirement, being a big deal. Some don’t realize they have resources to buy a house, or refinance. Really our goal is to make them strong in their personal life, so they are focused professionally.”

Beyond that, a major piece of their organizational purpose focuses on wellness and preventing injury, something which is apparent in the variety of vendors at the resource fair.

“If wellness if going to be a way of life here, every decision we make needs to have wellness at the forefront,” Rossback says. “Because our workplace is such a non-judgmental environment, anyone who is considering health and wellness as a part of their lives is applauded. Our program is designed to meet employees where they are.”

While this event is designed for the employees, there are discussions about holding it in the summer next year so that the employees can bring their families and continue to build a strong sense of community. The outcomes and benefits to employees that come about from the resource fair are significant for camaraderie and morale.

Rossback explains, “It really just brings the whole team together in a more collaborative way.”

One of the major goals of the resource fair for the organization is to eliminate the natural departmental divisions within South Adams County Fire, such as those between fire operations, fire prevention, administrative staff, the EMS, and wellness divisions. The resource fair is an exciting event because it brings together the parts of the department that might not work directly with each other, or that may only interact with each other through email, and creates one big collaborative event.

“It makes everyone you work with feel like real people, too,” Rossback adds.

Beyond the financial and business vendors that are present, there is a major emphasis on health and wellness. South Adams County Fire has space for peer fitness trainers, physical therapists, counselors, acupuncturists, and peer fitness trainers, to name a few. While at the fair, employees can even take physical agility tests to learn new fitness techniques.

Putting on the resource fair is no small feat. Originally, Rossback worked one-on-one with South Adams County Fire’s Public Relations to plan, coordinate, and promote the event.

“The event has gone really well. But it took a team. Usually, I did it with our Public Relations in the past, but this year we got all appropriate parties involved and made it huge.” As the event grew in size, more people became involved. “Now, I involve the training coordinator, our executive assistant, our physical therapist, as well as our Public Relations.”

Coordination is only half the battle. The other part is getting the employees to attend.

“Getting the buy-in from the line – involving the ops chief and battalion chief – is important,” Rossback notes.

To do this, Rossback kept open communication with the ops division, polling them to understand what the most beneficial resources and vendors for them and the employees in their divisions would be. And from there, the benefits naturally overlap with office staff.

“Typically, what is beneficial to them is beneficial to administration.”

All vendors bring raffle prizes for staff to win, and this year was the first year that the fair had activities associated with each vendor. South Adams County Fire made something similar to bingo cards this year with all the different vendors named on each square. Employees could only mark off each vendor by engaging with them and their products.

“This year, it sure did make an impact,” says Rossback, “because all the staff was submitting their cards, we were posting on our internal dashboard, and being able to see in real-time who was ‘winning’.”

The CSD Pool was also on hand as a vendor, as providers of workers’ compensation coverage, safety and loss prevention resources such as training, HR, and wellness services for South Adams County Fire.

“We don’t have a large HR department in our organization,” Rossback says. “By the CSD Pool coming out to help answer questions about workers’ compensation, it takes some of the pressure off the department head and shows that it’s not just HR making the workers’ compensation rules, and that there’s actually a story behind it.”

From the sounds of it, this year’s resource fair was a big success, and the proof was in the energy.

“Just watching the reactions and the multiple words of gratitude,” Rossback comments, “it just validates that we’re on the right track. Just to watch our guys interact with each other and watching the admin team was great. That was my favorite part.”

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