Denver7 | Weather


Front Range fire departments prepare crews and equipment ahead of gusty, hot day

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Posted at 4:04 PM, Jun 17, 2024

DENVER — High fire danger across the Front Range Monday prompted additional preparedness from fire crews in the area.

"We're looking at that weather," said Brennan Finnegan, captain and wildland coordinator with West Metro Fire Rescue.

As we move into the summer months, gusty winds, high heat, and low humidity force wildfires to be top of mind for Captain Finnegan and his crews.

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Hire Fire Danger across the front range

"We're expecting rapid growth if any fire starts," he said. "Best case scenario: no fire starts. Worst case scenario: as things dry out, winds increase. That's the worst case where fires are just very rapid and hard to control."

That requires West Metro Fire to be prepared for any possibility. The department has 17 fire stations; eight are designated urban interface stations and require an added layer of preparation on red flag warning days.

"Those eight wildland urban interface stations, anytime the crew is out of the quarters for scheduled events or long periods of time, they always have their brush truck with them to to be able to respond immediately to wildland fires," Captain Finnegan said.

The department also ensures it has an additional crew to send to the scene of a wildland should one start.

"If we get a report of a confirmed wildland fire, we really ramp our response up from the get-go," said Captain Finnegan. "So bringing 25-35 firefighters to the scene right away."

While fire departments across the Front Range are focused on their reaction to fires, others are more tuned into being proactive.

"There are many tools that communities can use to reduce their risk to wildfire exposure, and Firewise is one of them," said Chazz Lakin, the wildfire resilience coordinator for the Colorado State Forest Service.

Firewise USA is a program helping more than 200 Colorado communities reduce their risk of wildfire destruction. It teaches communities how to keep their homes as safe as possible.

Front Range fire departments prepare crews and equipment ahead of gusty, hot day

"It's a program that provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and reduce wildfire risks at the local level," Lakin said.

The program requires communities to first form a board or committee. Then, they must obtain a wildfire risk assessment from the Colorado State Forest Service or a local fire department and create an action plan.

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