Wildfires have already devastated parts of southern Colorado, and our firefighters continue to prepare for the worst.
All April long, the Colorado Springs Fire Department has put every company through an annual wildland firefighting training exercise as the fire season ramps up. Lt. Don Rickert, who’s leading the drill, told News 5 this preparation is essential for a city that faces a number of fire threats.
"The assumption is that we could have another event like Waldo, and in that case, it is an all-hands on deck scenario where everyone is going to be involved in some degree," Rickert said.
The fire that rocked Colorado Springs in 2012 is still having an impact on the men and women who fought to contain it. It’s why all city firefighters must take part in this annual training to be prepared for the next big blaze.
"For our department, it is the expectation that we are all operating at this level and can jump in wherever we’re needed and perform effectively," Rickert said.
This year’s wildland firefighting refresher is focused on two components, communication and tactics, because large-scale incidents require fine-tuned messaging between the crews on the ground and in command.
"So, when we show up on scene, we have lots of things going on very quick," said Chris Byrne, a 7-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. "And if we aren’t on the same page, we’re going to be bouncing back and forth trying to figure out what everyone else is trying to say."
Firefighters took part in a pair of mock fire scenarios Friday, utilizing different attack plans.
First, the leap frog maneuver, where one crew focused on a stubborn body of flames is passed by another to continue working a flank. Firefighters also practiced the pincer attack, in which crews work both flanks to pinch off the fire.
It’s all in an effort to get ready for what could be a very long summer.
"This year, our fire season is getting off to kind of a big start, so it kind of gets us in the mindset and ready and thinking about what we’ll do when we get those calls," Rickert said.