Colorado reports on firefighting ops

The Colorado Center of Excellence (CoE) for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting has published its Night Aerial Firefighting Operations Interim Report. It summarises the Center’s work on night operations to date, and provides an overview of existing night firefighting programmes, as well as suggesting several potential moves that could better support policymakers in their decisions regarding night aerial firefighting. Focusing on these potential paths forward, the CoE put forward several potential operating models for Colorado firefighting efforts.

Scenario One, said the CoE, is to forego the creation of night aerial firefighting operations capability in Colorado. The major drawbacks of such operations, said the report, are the safety risks, costs and complexities.

Scenario Two is to introduce a state-wide night operations programme for wildland firefighting, and while this would be costly, it would allow the DFPC to respond to fire emergencies anywhere in the state in a short amount of time. Building upon scenario two, one path to making costs more palatable to the taxpayer is to offer a broader range of services, including air ambulance, structure (high rise) fire support, law enforcement, search and rescue, emergency management, and other missions.

Another option for the state, continued the report, is to start up a night-capable aviation programme which would serve only the most populated area of the state. Other ideas include maximising return on existing investments by extending the times at which current assets may operate, and introducing unmanned aerial systems, which are capable of performing certain wildland firefighting missions.

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