Colorado fire departments prepare for what could be a severe wildfire season

Posted at 1:07 PM, May 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-19 20:17:48-04

GENESEE, Colo. – Eight agencies, including several foothill fire departments took to the Genesee foothills on Saturday for Wildland Fire Training. 

Firefighters spent the day preparing for what they say could be a severe fire season.

Fire officials blame an abnormally dry winter and widespread drought conditions throughout Colorado.

The group of 40 men and women spent Saturday training to be on the frontline of any wildland fire that might burn through the Colorado foothills this season.

They constructed a fire line, something we often hear about when firefighters are on scene, fighting a blaze.

“There's nothing fun or sexy about it,” Golden Gate Fire Chief Damian Difeo said. “It's hard, dirty work.”

Rain or shine, it’s the specialized work that we rely on to keep wildland fires from growing.

For the group of recruits and fire experts, Saturday’s rain was a welcomed sight because of just how dry it has been around the state.

“If this moisture shuts off, then we're going to be right back where we were a month ago,” Chief Difeo said.

Saturday’s scenario involved a fire that started because of a lightning strike. The team of recruits had to work together to create a fire line and establish containment.

“Because, when we do have a big fire, we're all going to be working together anyway,” Difeo said. “But until they actually get out onto a fire, it's really tough to simulate the full extent of a fire.”

Difeo said Saturday’s moisture meant the grass was going to “green up” and grow. These are conditions that could lead to taller fuels and higher fire danger.

“We live in Colorado and there's always a fire danger,” he added. “Whether it's high or moderate or low, it's always there.”

While recruits trained in less than ideal conditions on Saturday, Chief Difeo said when it starts to heat up, conditions will be even worse.

“You're doing this in the middle of summer when it's 90 degrees and 7 percent humidity; this is hard work,” Chief Difeo. “It's not easy.”

The following agencies completed this year’s Wildland training practical: Fairmount, Evergreen, Genesee, Golden Gate, Golden, Foothills, Timberline, and Jefferson County Road and Bridge.