County Commissioners Plan for 2012 Fire Season

Photo Courtesy of Jill Smith (all rights reserved)

Last year’s dry weather conditions added to the chances of prairie fires in southeast Colorado, as was the case in Bent and Baca Counties.  In light of those fires, representatives of the Colorado State Forest Service and Stefan Warn, Prowers County Emergency Operations Director, met with the Prowers County Commissioners to discuss what resources the CSFS can provide local departments for future wildfires and ongoing efforts to improve mutual aid fire response in southeast Colorado. 

Brenda Wasielewski, CSFS Fire Management Officer and Donna Davis, CSFS District Forester presented an outline of last October’s southeast Colorado mutual aid fire response meeting.  State forest service officials offered to help in the creation of a County/Fire Department jurisdiction map.  Various points of data will be shared among Otero, Las Animas, Baca, Crowley, Prowers, Cheyenne and Bent Counties and county commissioners.   A follow-up meeting will be held in La Junta on March 2 for a Wildland Fire Mutual Aide Meeting.  Wasielewski emphasized that when called, CSFS responders are only there to assist and take direction from local authorities, as well as to provide additional equipment and manpower when called for.  Some of those resources include a fire engine, brush truck and a two-man crew, as well as firefighting aircraft and a 20 man fire crew. 

Additional resources are available locally, through WERF, Wildfire Emergency Response Fund.  The fund helps  with initial attack, wildland fire response on state and private lands in Colorado.  A county sheriff, fire protection district or municipal fire department may request a WERF response.  Waslielewski said that when funds are available, the agency requesting aid will be reimbursed by the Response Fund.  This includes ground crews, aircraft such as fixed wing and helicopter and pilots. 

Curtis Turner, Dean of Academic Services at Lamar Community College, and Anne-Marie Crampton, Director of Institutional Advancement, discussed the college’s plans to host two, one-day business training programs, along the lines of SCORE, Service Corps of Retired Executives.  One is set for April 7 and the other on April 21.  Each six-hour session costs approximately $75 per person.  Turner said the program is geared to provide start-up information to someone wanting to establish their own business, develop business plans for presentation to lenders and can also assist current business owners who want to expand or modify their business.  The course will be taught by instructors from the SCORE office in Pueblo.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCityCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyGranadaHollyLamarPublic SafetyWeatherWiley


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