The Norwood Fire Protection District (NFPD) continues to grow. After recently adding wildland fire coordinator Mark Garcia as its second full-time employee and Scott Wederquist as a paid part-time EMS paramedic, Chief John Bockrath announced last week the appointment of another employee — Sonny Lopez, of Norwood, has been hired as district administrator.

Bockrath said he saw the need to delegate a variety of responsibilities to support future growth plans of establishing NFPD as a strategic command center for regional fire control.

“We have more new volunteers than ever joining our team, and we’ve just signed four contract wildland firefighters who are now ready to deploy on state and federally managed fires,” Bockrath said. “Sonny will start working part-time, helping out with administrative duties including bookkeeping, payroll, inventory, budget management, and a variety of operational tasks that I need to delegate on a daily basis. He’ll also provide much needed IT support, and will help rebuild the NFPD website.”

Lopez is an entrepreneur, business consultant and brand manager. Bockrath said he brings a wide range of operations, financial and marketing experience to NFPD. He will, at the same time, continue as CEO of his own organic farming operation and CBD products company, Thrive Farms Colorado.

He replaces Linda Soucie, who served the department for 17 years in her role as NFPD district secretary. Bockrath said the department is grateful for her service.

“Linda has been a tremendous help, and was the glue that kept everything going,” Bockrath said. “We wish her well as she moves forward with her previous plans to manage hotel properties in California, and to continue her career with the Telluride Regional Airport.”

Bockrath said the department continues to grow its personnel, equipment and capabilities, and he is committed to finding alternative income sources. That includes wildland fire contracting and grant funding opportunities to help alleviate the tax burden to district residents.

“Sonny will assist with the complex task of identifying and writing grant proposals that are available from a wide range of potential sources,” Bockrath said. “We want to generate enough alternative income to help postpone going back to the taxpayers for another mill levy increase, and Sonny is here to help accomplish this.”

The NFPD was established in 1932 as a volunteer department that covered 18 square miles. In 1953, it became the Norwood-Redvale Volunteer Fire Department, which covered both towns and 70 square miles.

In 2008, it transitioned into the Norwood Fire Protection District. Today, the NFPD’s four professionals, wildland contractors and nearly 40 volunteers provide emergency medical services, structural and wildland fire suppression, along with rescue and hazardous materials response. NFPD protects approximately 3,000 residents over 385 square miles in San Miguel County.

For more information on the Norwood Fire Protection District, the public should visit norwoodfiredistrict.org.