Denver firefighters ramp up efforts to help fight wildfires this season

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DENVER (KDVR) — It might be cold and damp in Denver this week, but our local fire department is thinking ahead to the hot and dry summer before us. While their duties in the city will always come first, more of their firefighters continue to sign up to help, where the problems don’t let up.

“It’s never-ending, it seems like it’s just a continuous cycle we are going through,” said Charlie Vigil, who has been serving wildland response as an EMT for three years. “The fires are larger, and they move very fast. You always have to keep that in the forefront of your mind.” 

Denver Fire Department has over 200 firefighters fully trained to tackle wildfires in Colorado and across the county. On Wednesday, the wildland crew members with DFD gathered for a refresher course before the summer season.

“The refreshers are good to remind you what’s happening out in the wildland world,” said Vigil.

Jim Krugman, Wildland Operations Coordinator for DFD has almost 60 new firefighters this year to assist in wildfire response.

Those extra hands will quickly be utilized. Last year, DFD had almost 400 deployments to help get wildfires under control.

“This year, after the last fire season, our interest was significant,” said Krugman.

DFD is better equipped this year too. The department purchased $15,000 worth of protective gear, chainsaws and radios.

However, Krugman tells FOX31 News no matter how bad a wildfire season may get, the City of Denver will always be their priority.

“We will never put city stations at risk for a volunteer program to help the state, or help nationally,” said Krugman.

The 58 Denver firefighters new to wildland response this year still have a lot of training to do. Many of them still have to take a pack test, which is carrying a 45 pound backpack for a mile and a half, in under 12 minutes.

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