Local training teams Cheyenne Mountain fire fighters with federal, state first-responders
By the 721st Civil Engineer
Fire and Emergency Services
FORT CARSON, Colo. – The Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire Department and Highway 115 corridor played host to the Department of Defense’s first ever Wildfire Academy. Increasing fire danger and urban development has created a need for local, state and federal agencies to work together to combat the increasing risk of uncontrolled wildfires.
Approximately 100 fire fighters from 16 local federal, state and local agencies took part in the week-long training academy, which culminated with a 100-acre live fire exercise conducted at Fort Carson.
“Although this event was initiated by the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire Department, it has been a truly cooperative effort among our neighboring agencies,” said Chris Soliz, crew chief and lead organizer of the academy. “This effort will lead to combining resources so that any one fire department doesn’t exhaust all of its resources.”
Courses ranged from basic firefighting to advanced incident command and event coordination. Facilities and equipment were provided by participating agencies. Wildfire Academy instructors were provided by Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Fort Carson, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Springs Fire Department, U.S. Air Force Academy, El Paso County and Schriever Air Force Base. Training was conducted at Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Fort Carson, CSFD Station 16 and Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
“The past two years have highlighted the need for inter-agency cooperation,” said Chris Miller, Cheyenne Mountain AFS fire chief. “This academy enables our agencies to provide the best possible capabilities to respond to what is expected to be a severe fire season.”
According to Chief Miller, this training was designed to enhance the DOD and civilian emergency responder teamwork before a time of need or crisis.
“This type of common training results in seamless inter-agency cooperation and ultimately enables emergency responders to train, work and respond together in any scenario,” he said.
Future training plans include involving more agencies and a broader variety of classes.
“This is only one of many cooperative training events in the local area that are either scheduled or in planning,” said Chief Miller. “El Paso County emergency responders, at all levels, are setting the standard for combined capabilities.”