Colorado Wildland Fire Conference: Planning, Mitigation & Operations

Colorado is a state graced with an abundance of open space, magnificent mountains and vast pristine forests of pine, oak and aspen trees. It is Colorado's awesome natural beauty that has caused a population explosion and the resulting building boom into...

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"It is rare that people from all areas: planning, zoning, suppression, prevention...and jurisdictions, local, state, county and federal, volunteer and career get a chance to share information. It is increasingly clear that we face common problems and hazards. No single entity can cope with all of the challenges existing in today's interface. By sharing ideas, solutions and resources we become stronger...The speakers assembled for this year's conference are acknowledged leaders in their field, providing us with the opportunity to learn from their experience."

Photo by Robert M. Winston
An Evergreen Fire Department 1,500-gallon Mack tanker/tender at a fill site.

The three-day conference schedule was filled with nearly 50 informative and interesting presentations by some of the best-known names in wildland and SWI fire protection from across the country. Among the topics: Engine Company Burnovers-Case Studies; Tactical Safety for Interface/Intermix Fires; Wildland Urban Interface Task Force/Mutual Aid; Prescribed Fire as a Mitigation and Training Tool; Structural Wildland Interzone Firefighting An Eastern Perspective; Air Operations in the Interzone; Wildland & Urban Interface Fire Behavior in the Front Range; Engine Company Operations in the Interface; Escaped Fire Situation Analysis; Surviving the Wildland Urban Interface Fire; and Burning Out, Backfiring and Prescribed Fire for Suburban Firefighters. Several roundtable discussions also took place.

On day three, an all-day live-fire exercise was held at South Table Mountain. The training exercise was a series of simulated (with live fire) wildland and SWI fire scenarios. Dozens of structural and wildland firefighters were formed into preassigned task forces and divisions which included various types of engines, brush units, water tenders (tankers), and logistic and support units. Scenarios/training exercises included:

  • Defensive deployment of engine crews.
  • Structure protection.
  • Fire line construction.
  • Progressive hoselays.
  • Pump-and-roll operations.
  • Use of fire to protect structures.
  • Air operations.
  • Safety and protective clothing.
  • Incident command system.
  • Critiques and demobilization.

Also included in the CWFC were luncheons and banquets with keynote speakers, fire apparatus displays, and fire equipment and educational display booths. This was an exceptionally well-organized and effective and educational conference.

Whether you are a structural or a wildland firefighter, career or volunteer, city, suburban or rural, I highly recommend attending this year's Colorado Wildland Fire Conference, to be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Lakewood Sept. 26-28. Here are some of this year's CWFC highlights: Wildfire Origin and Cause Determination (Wildfire Arson); Structural Triage Planning; Tactical Safety in the Urban Interface; Wildland Fire Behavior; Water Resources Planning and Operations; Back Firing/Burning Out Techniques; Engine Company Operations; and Prescribed Fire in the Southeastern United States. Also planned are many other presentations related to the wildland and SWI fire challenge that will be of interest to structural and wildland firefighters of all ranks. Once again, the popular fire mitigation and live-fire field exercises will be held on the last day of the conference. For additional information about the conference call 303-674-3145 or fax 303-674-8701.

Robert M. Winston, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a district chief in the Boston Fire Department.