Monday, August 22, 2016

County Commissioner Lauds Fire Team

On Aug. 2, 2016, CDPS Executive Director Stan Hilkey received a letter from Las Animas County Commissioner Mack Louden extolling the outstanding leadership and work of several members of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control. We'd like to share the story and excerpts from his letter so that you can join us in celebrating a job well done.

In July, various agencies were responding to the Plum Canyon Fire in Las Animas county. DFPC's Brenda Wasielewski responded to the scene and determined that additional resources were needed to contain the fire. When she called for additional resources, the initial response was that the fire didn't qualify for funding due to the lack of endangered structures.

Members of the DFPC crew who responded to the Plum fire.
"Upon hearing this I responded that the county had no funds and Kim [Volunteer Fire Department] were strapped for money also. At that point, it looked like we were on our own to contain the fire and this was expressed to Ms. Wasielewski. She immediately said let me try again, for which we were grateful," Commissioner Loudon wrote.

Brenda was able to secure a DFPC Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) to send to the fire. This included an Incident Commander, Operations Specialist, Logistics Specialist, Line Supervision, engines, handcrews, helicopters, and more.
DFPC sent vehicles and equipment in addition to leadership.

"The fire did not meet the criteria for state responsibility, but would likely have grown larger and cost more if no action was taken, so DFPC sent the resources to help keep the fire smaller and keep the long-term/eventual cost down," explained Caley Fisher, PIO for the Division.

"What happened next was nothing short of phenomenal. Having been a Commissioner for five plus years I have never seen a response so quick on a fire," Louden wrote.  He noted that whereas he has typically experienced a delay of several days when mobilizing outside resources, the DFPC response was immediate.

"We were pleasantly surprised to see the quick mobilization, agility of the team, and the cooperation of all involved."

Louden specifically lauded Incident Commander Phil Daniels for his collaborative leadership style: expertly leading the response while incorporating the knowledge and input of locals. Louden also expressed his gratitude for the work of the DFPC helicopter, which helped fight the fire in hard-to access terrain.

 Ultimately, he said, the professionalism, cooperation and speed of the DFPC team helped to avert a "potential disaster" and resulted in greater efficiencies.

"The quickness of the response prevented the fire from getting big and ultimately saved taxpayers money," Louden wrote.

Congratulations to DFPC for a job well done!

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