By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — A spate of fires on Fort Carson recently brought to light the need for fire and emergency crews to respond quickly to situations that can flare up anywhere at any time.
The Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire and Emergency Services Team was there to help.
“We work together often,” said Chris Soliz, assistant chief of operations Cheyenne Mountain Fire and Emergency Services, about the Fort Carson fire department. “Frequent cooperative training and joint operations ensures a high standard of interoperability.”
The Cheyenne Mountain and Fort Carson fire departments have a mutual aid agreement and at least a decade long relationship.
“It’s a reciprocal aid agreement so we’re able to call on them for help and vice versa,” he said.
The cooperation extends into better ways for the departments to join together in the case of major emergencies as well. Soliz said the CMAFS firefighters and incident commanders are certified in the Blue Card Incident Management System, a method of standardizing communications between multiple departments when they respond to the same incidents. Colorado Springs fire and Fort Carson fire department are adapting the system.
The CMAFS Fire and Emergency Services Team has two certified Blue Card System trainers on staff, Soliz said. In the spirit of cooperative training, they are scheduled to train and certify candidates of the Fort Carson Fire Department in standardized hazard zone management as Blue Card incident commanders. Working with them on firefighting simulations and final certification will be a benefit to all the departments that work together. The most recent department to enlist the team’s services were the Cripple Creek Fire Department where seven department candidates completed the certification.
“This program is a national incident commander certification designed to reduce line of duty deaths by standardizing hazard zone management, said David Arcilla, CMAFS deputy fire chief, and Blue Card instructor. “In a time of crisis the last thing firefighters need is confusion in their terminology.”
Facing several large wildfires in recent years has given the CMAFS fire crews a lot of experience. The department contributed initial suppression forces for the Waldo Canyon, Black Forest, and several smaller fires.
People living in the Pikes Peak Region know how important it is to have well-coordinated, well-trained firefighters when a crisis flares up. The constant effort of the CMAFS Fire and Emergency Services increases the level of safety not only for the installation, but for the community as well.