USA — Firefighters respond to almost half a million forest, brush and grass fires every year according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.
Throughout history, wildfires have devastated Colorado land. Now, The Colorado Legislature has approved the purchase of two six million dollar aircrafts and with these planes, exclusive to the state, Colorado will be arguably one of the strongest wildfire fighting states in the country.
“The division has a goal to minimize the fires that get large – by early detection and by using the capabilities and technologies to find fires that have been rather elusive, said Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Controls Rocco Snart.
The planes are equipped with three sensors – two color optical and one infrared that make the planes especially effective at night.
“It could see a campfire from 30 or 45 miles a away when you wouldn’t even be able to know that it was there from the naked eye, said Snart.
The aircraft fly 18,000 to 22,000 feet in the air which give it a better picture of the landscape than current fire planes.
“A lot of times you get a phone call or multiple phone calls saying oh we see smoke in this area, and five minutes later the wind changes and the smoke is gone, said Snart.
Colorado might need these aircraft more than ever this wildfire season.
“Weve had a couple weeks of really dry weather so if that doesn’t turn around we could be looking at an active fire season, said West Region Wildfire Councils Lilia Falk.
Falk said while the new purchases are an exciting step for Colorado, they aren’t going to be the answer for all problems. Homeowners should also take responsibility for wildfire education and preparation.
Whether that be implementing defensible space, coming up with an evacuation plan for themselves, and really thinking about what it would take if they were to be evacuated if there was a wildfire in their area, said Falk.
The planes will be housed in Centennial, and they can get anywhere in Colorado in under an hour.
The Division of Fire Prevention and Control has also developed a cloud based software program that will allow responders and public land management agencies to access fire intelligence in real time.
A big wildfire can cost over ten million dollars in suppression and damage costs, so Snart said just preventing one or two fires can pay for the planes themselves.
The Colorado State Forest Service has an interactive map on their website where you can pinpoint your location and find out the risk of wildfire near you. Head to: http://csfs.colostate.edu/