Colorado Wildfire and Flood Safety Awareness Week

This year’s first wildfire, the Galena fire in Larimer County, (still burning by the way!) could not be a more appropriate visual for the Colorado Wildfire and Flood Safety Awareness Week.

English: Pinewood Lake in the foothills of the...

Coming off a record wildfire season in 2012, there is definitely a sense of urgency amongst us to address our state’s susceptibility to wildfires.

One question being asked by several Colorado lawmakers is why does Colorado not have its own air fleet to fight wildfires? Spearheading legislation to change this, is Sen. Steve King, (R) Grand Junction and Sen. Cheri Jahn, (D) Jefferson County who believe Colorado fire responders could work smarter by having access to a state air fleet instead of relying on federal resources. Legislators argue that if the state were unrestrained by federal rules, pilots of state air tankers might be able to do night drops sometimes, which federal pilots don’t currently do.

Pie’s Senior Fire Investigator, Jeffrey Berino weighs in:

Both fixed wing and rotary aircraft are a valuable tool in the Incident Commanders toolbox in combatting wildfires. Unfortunately they come with significant costs. Slurry costs about $3.00 a gallon plus the $1,600 to $6,000 per flight hour to deliver the product. Helicopters can run anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 per hour depending on delivery capacity.

In line with the Awareness Week, forecasters are also warning Coloradans to be vigilant about drought and flash floods issues; especially flooding on the tender ground of recently burned areas which could be a huge disaster. Drought warnings are becoming more dismal with this year’s snow pack only at 70 percent of normal.

This year (2013) is showing some signs of a repeat of the 2012 deadly wildfire season in Colorado. Unless we see a moist storm track throughout Colorado this Spring and an early onset of the monsoon in July, we most likely will be in the middle of neighborhood evacuations and dealing with loss of structures fairly soon. May 4 is National Wildfire Preparedness Day in Colorado. I hope everyone does an evaluation of the criteria outlined in the National “Ready, Set, Go” program as it relates to their home” – Jeffrey Berino, Pie Senior Fire Investigator, Wildfire Expert

About Jeffrey Berino:

Jeff Berino portrait

Jeffrey Berino CFEI, CCFI, B.S., is a court-certified expert wildfire investigator in both the private and public sectors. He is deputized, works on a county-wide arson task force, and serves as an instructor in fire investigations for a community college and many insurance groups. He also holds National and State certifications in fire investigation. He is often retained to manage and combat some of the large campaign-style wildfires throughout the United States. Having investigated wildland fires from California to Florida and Montana to Texas, Jeff’s investigation experience includes a variety of ecosystems.  Jeff has lent his talents as a Senior Fire Investigator to Pie over the last 12 years.

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