Colorado’s own aerial firefighting fleet will soon be much bigger. Following Governor Hickenlooper’s May 12 signature on the bill authorizing a state-owned fleet, Colorado’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control has been busy contracting helicopters, single engine air tankers and early detection remote sensing aircraft.
As snow fell in Colorado Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper spoke about the state's 2014 wildfire outlook and signed three wildfire focused bills into law. While Northern Colorado has seen ample moisture, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control said the state should still expect to see an average to normal fire season.
Lawmakers on Colorado’s powerful joint budget committee are skeptical about finding money for an aerial firefighting fleet for the upcoming wildfire season. A report from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control recommends spending $33 million on spotter planes, small air tankers, helicopters, and leasing large air tankers for wildfire season.
Despite Colorado’s higher than average snowpack, there’s no guarantee it will reduce the risk of wildfires in 2014. That’s why state, federal and military personal are taking the lessons learned during the severe 2012 and 2013 fire seasons to be better prepared.
They’ll be more air power available to fight wildfires in 2014 than in recent years. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho says up to 17 “exclusive use” air tankers will be placed strategically across the country, ready to deploy when fires erupt.