Colorado Centre, Hello from your Fire Chief:
With much news coverage and local discussion happening in regards to multiple devastating fires in our area recently, I want to give you more information on not only the “what” but the “why” behind these events. My hope is that this will give meaning behind the potential for large fires and help the community protect itself by being very cautious with fire prevention.
First this is not just an eastern Colorado problem. Fire advisories are happening in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. This is due to above normal rainfall in 2017 which produced an abundance of fine fuels across the grass lands where we live. For 2018, we are seeing a drying pattern at a very critical time. This coupled with the current winds is creating frequent Red Flag Warnings for fire growth and behavior. This fire environment described can produce fast moving fires that quickly outpace fire suppression efforts and are capable of threatening communities. In our area, we can have 2-4 foot tall grass fires that can travel at 2-8 without the wind pushing it. On high wind days, this rate of spread can be greatly increased. What firefighters are now experiencing is unprecedented fire growth and intensity with any new or on-going fire, especially under critical fire weather days.
What you can expect from me: Your fire station is staffed with two paid professional firefighters 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. They have the ability to respond to 911 calls on either a fire engine designed to fight structure fires or they can respond on a brush truck designed specifically for vegetation fires. The larger structural fire engine can also be used to establish a water supply to assist with these vegetation fires or perform structural protection against vegetation fires. In addition to this, our contract with the City of Colorado Springs requires Colorado Springs Fire Department to send out immediate full fire response to any 911 calls in our area. With this, you are getting maximum coverage for all incidents. With your fire station being staffed with only two firefighters, I am not allowing them to leave the Colorado Centre Metro District to assist other agencies at this time. It is important that you get the immediate response that you are paying for. If your firefighters were allowed to leave we would lose that immediate response. In addition to this, there have been days where I have brought in off duty firefighters to staff both the fire engine and the brush truck simultaneously with a total of 4 firefighters. This is in an effort to assure residents that they have the best immediate response possible.
What I ask of you: Please follow the burn bans and burn restrictions as they are prescribed. This is for the entire community’s safety and protection of your lives and property. If you see anyone violating these restrictions call 911 and report it immediately. Keep your own lawns and landscaping trimmed and as green as possible by watering early and often. This allows more defensible space around your property and will slow the spread of fire. Most importantly, avoid areas that are in the vicinity of ongoing fires, monitor the media and heed evacuation notices should a fire occur near our area or your place of employment.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to stop by your fire station and talk to the on-duty crew or contact me directly.
Thank you for your support in keeping the community safe.
Fire Chief Josh Winter