EVERGREEN, Colo. (KDVR) — Two fires in as many days have communities in the foothills and the high country on alert, which is especially the case on red flag warning days.
Fire departments in the foothills and high country communities have a very unique experience fighting fires and citizens play an important role in that.
“We want to empower our residents to prepare for emergencies, to mitigate the risk around their properties, to be educated so they know how to respond properly, react properly,” Einar Jensen, risk reduction coordinator for Evergreen Fire Rescue, said.
Jensen’s job is to keep people in Evergreen educated on how to keep the fire risk low.
“For us, in a community like this, the public is essential to preparedness,” Jensen said, “mitigation, education and emergency response.”
Fire teams fight fires, but Jensen said citizens are just as much a part of the team as they are, especially in mountain and foothill towns.
“The challenge is that we have to remember that just because we people live here now,” Jensen said, “that doesn’t necessarily change the wildfire-prone aspect of the ecosystem.”
Another challenge for departments is navigating the terrain.
“It’s getting fire engines or ambulances or other apparatus to the homeowner, to the home, to the property, and it’s getting people out,” Jensen said.
Unlike cities on the Front Range, towns in the foothills and mountains don’t always have roads laid out in a grid.
“You may live a mile away from a fire station, for example, as the crow flies but it might take two or three miles of roadway to get there,” Jensen said.
One of the many resources first responders offer is how to create a family communication plan.
Their fire crews, Jensen said, paid and volunteer, are always ready to protect you but communities in the high country are safer when citizens do their part to keep the area safe.