Colorado adjusts firefighting financial resources to address “year-round fire risk” – by Jan Wondra

Last Friday, April 22, Governor Polis, Senate Speaker Fenberg, and state fire officials from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) announced new firefighting legislation. forest fires.

The new legislation would provide $15 million to add to the state’s aviation resources available for wildfire fighting. The funds would extend Colorado’s current large air tanker contract, a contract for a second large air tanker, as well as two additional Type 1 helicopters, or other aviation resources depending on situations and resource availability.

The legislation would also include funding for the Division to implement Colorado Fire Commission Recommendation 21-01 which directs the Division to establish a statewide fire dispatch and coordination center. , 24/7, for rapid deployment and monitoring of fire-based assets. This center will help local, state and federal partner agencies dispatch firefighting resources to fires and other emergencies more quickly and efficiently when responding to incidents that exceed local capabilities, throughout the year .

“Being in the Colorado Fire Department for over 30 years, I have seen the evolution of wildfires; the number, intensity, complexity and impacts of wildfires in Colorado have increased exponentially and will continue to worsen,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan. “We no longer have a fire season because it has become a fire year. This dispatch center along with the additional aviation resources will greatly enhance our ability to fight these fires, saving lives and property.

From 2012 to 2022, Colorado averaged 5,507 fires and 221,661 acres burned per year across all landholdings. Of course, this average tells a story; while the past two years of massive wildfire losses across Colorado tell another story of growing fire danger.

“This funding will increase the state’s ability to support our local partners; help reduce the potential for large, costly and catastrophic fires that now occur year-round,” said DFPC Director Morgan. “Not only will the expanded fleet of aeronautical firefighting assets be an additional resource for an aggressive and early initial attack on wildfires, but can also support larger, longer lasting wildfire suppression efforts. .”

To view Friday’s full Wildfire Outlook and Preparedness Plan press conference, Click here watch.

Featured Image: Aboard a Colorado National Guard helicopter, Gov. Jared Polis on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, conducted an aerial tour of Boulder County neighborhoods destroyed by wildfires the previous day. He was accompanied by Brig. General Laura Clellan, Adjutant General of Colorado, and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. Colorado US Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Joe Neguse also toured the area in a separate helicopter.

Louis R. Hancock