DENVER - Colorado lawmakers agreed to budget $21 million for an aerial firefighting fleet designed to spot and attack wildfires faster.
The Senate approved the funding Wednesday, hours after Gov. John Hickenlooper's top fire official told lawmakers the state needs "to bring tools to the game" to battle wildfires sooner.
State fire Director Paul Cooke briefed lawmakers on recommendations he issued last week regarding an aerial firefighting fleet. His plan calls for the state to buy two spotter planes to detect fires within an hour after the first sighting of smoke.
Cooke also recommends that the state contract four helicopters and four single-engine tankers to begin fire suppression within an hour of a request from local fire chiefs.
The recommendations come in the aftermath of historic back-to-back wildfire seasons.