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Colorado DFPC, Colorado Army Nat'l Guard annual wildfire aircraft training wraps up

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 20:31:23-04

LONGMONT, Colo. — Ahead of what's forecasted to be an above-normal core fire season, teams from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and the Colorado Army National Guard wrapped up their annual training Tuesday.

"We want to make this so that they come in, they get a briefing in the morning, identify what kind of tactical missions they're going to be doing for the day, what kind of water sources they're going to dip in from and then working with the folks to basically simulate fighting a fire on the ground," DFPC Aviation Unit Chief Vince Welbaum said.

This year's training lasted a week longer so the National Guard could have more time practicing water drops.

"Having this as an opportunity to get out there and do more of it just helps everybody," Welbaum said.

All this practice will likely come in handy later this year because of the increased likelihood of more wildfires.

"The fire season is determined by the spring moisture, how much we get, and we're not getting anything. Well, we're not getting much anyway, so unless we get the moisture, it's going to be a banner year for fires," Welbaum said.

The state will use its own aircraft first before calling in for the national guard's larger helicopters as they can carry bigger buckets.

However, as helpful as firefighting aircraft may be, their ability to fly is all dependent on the weather, Welbaum says. Like we saw with the Marshall Fire, if winds are greater than 30-40 miles per hour, the state will not launch its aircraft.