PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Colorado Springs Fire Chief Christopher P. Riley provided senior leaders from North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command his outlook for the 2014 Colorado Springs wildfire season Monday, two years to the day after the start of the Waldo Canyon fire.
During his visit, Riley touched on the lessons learned from the 2012 Waldo Canyon and 2013 Black Forest fires, including the city’s improved call-back procedures and additional wildfire suppression training.
Though unfortunate, these two fires helped raise awareness about the importance of preparing for natural disasters, including mitigating around homes to protect lives and property, having a “go-kit” ready for in the event of an evacuation, and how education and vigilance can assist first responders.
“In the past, the Colorado Springs Fire Department has seen a higher success rate of homes receiving less damage in wildfires when the property has been properly mitigated,” Riley said.
He concluded his remarks by thanking the military installations and the emergency responders who contributed to helping fight past wild fires in the area, many of whom were represented in the room including the fire chiefs and installation representatives from the Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base.
“When things go really, really bad, the success of a disaster response is based on relationships between agencies and these relationships start early,” Riley said. “All the Colorado Springs military installations are partners in local disaster response and have assisted in the past. We are confident they will continue to contribute to such responses in the future.”
USNORTHCOM provides resources in support of the National Interagency Fire Center to respond to wildfires in the continental U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Alaska upon request as a surge capability.
“USNORTHCOM maintains the utmost readiness to support NIFC requests for suppression of wildfires that threaten lives and property throughout America,” said Lt. Gen. Michael D. Dubie, Deputy Commander for U.S. Northern Command. “For over 40 years, as part of the national wildland firefighting effort, DOD has provided support with C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, or MAFFS, flown by the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserve.
“This past season (2013), four C-130 airlift wings (three Guard and one Reserve) reinforced the national wildland firefighting effort through application of fire retardant on 46 federally mission-assigned fires,” Dubie said. “When the Black Forest fire erupted less than 16 miles from the NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters, we and a host of state and local partners were well-prepared to meet the needs of our citizens.”
While the National Weather Service and National Interagency Fire Center predict a “normal” fire season this summer, Riley said due to recent moisture levels, “rapid growth of light fuels can dry out quickly after a few, hot dry days,” worsening conditions in a matter of days.
As far as the community, Riley said each and every citizen of the area can be the eyes and ears for first responders during the early stages of and wild fire and reiterated four points people need to be aware of:
•Currently there are no fire restrictions or bans in place, but both could be implemented if weather patterns change;
•Fireworks within city limits are still illegal;
•Citizens should maintain a heightened state of awareness and need to be careful with heat sources in natural areas; and
•Discussions are underway regarding smoking bans in city parks.
For more information on this visit, please contact the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs Office at 719-554-6889, or Fire Captain Steven E Oswald, City of Colorado Springs Fire Department Public Information Officer, at 719-385-7223 (office) or 719-367-6208, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM defends America’s homeland — protecting our people, national power, and freedom of action.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department is an Internationally Accredited Fire Department that provides world class fire and emergency service to our community. There are 21 fire stations staffed with emergency response resources that can be deployed throughout the city in order to reach an incident within 8 minutes from the time of the call 90% of the time. The Colorado Springs Fire Department provides fire, medical, public education, code enforcement and wildfire mitigation services. You can get more information by following us at: www.twitter.com/CSFDPIO or www.facebook.com/csfdpio