Wildfires

11:28am

Wed September 17, 2014
firefighters

Small Volunteer Fire Departments, Like Galeton, Colo., Look To Evolve

Nathan Heffel KUNC

Colorado has a shortage of volunteer firefighters, nearly 3,500, according to numbers recently compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News Even with statewide recruitment efforts underway, smaller agencies may have to find ways to adapt in order to survive.

One of those agencies is the small 14 person Galeton Volunteer Fire Department, northeast of Greeley. The department has been around since the early 50s and has always been volunteer driven.

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6:30am

Tue September 2, 2014
Firefighters

Colorado Volunteer Fire Departments Struggling For Recruits

Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Chief Brita Horn is also the Routt County treasurer and a part-time EMT.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

In many parts of Colorado when you dial 9-1-1 to report a fire, the firefighters who arrive to extinguish it are volunteers. These firefighters have other jobs, and serve half of the state’s population. But Colorado has an ever-shrinking pool of volunteers, leaving many communities at risk.

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6:15am

Tue September 2, 2014
Firefighters

Statewide, The Volunteer Fire Force Is Critically Understaffed

Lt. Mike Heckard talks to firefighters at the beginning of their weekly training session at the all-volunteer station in Peyton, Colo., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface.

And they are significantly understaffed.

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2:59am

Tue August 26, 2014
Around the Nation

Bigger, Faster Air Tankers Help Forest Service Tackle Wildfires

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 9:47 am

A DC-10 firefighting aircraft drops fire retardant in northern California in 2008. As the Forest Service expands and modernizes its fleet of air tankers, it has recently added several DC-10s.
David McNew Getty Images

In the battle against wildfires, the Forest Service often draws on a fleet of air tankers — planes that drop fire retardant from the sky.

But the fleet shrank dramatically in the early 2000s, and by 2012, the Forest Service was woefully low on planes. Now, the agency is quickly increasing the number of planes at its disposal — and modernizing the fleet in the process by adding bigger, faster and more efficient planes.

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3:15pm

Mon August 18, 2014
Environment

One Year After Calif. Rim Fire, Debate Simmers Over Forest Recovery

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 5:40 pm

Maria Benech of the U.S. Forest Service surveys a severely burned patch of forest. Almost 40 percent of the burned area looks similar.
Lauren Sommer KQED

Eric Knapp breaks apart a burned pine cone, looking for seeds — in his line of work this is considered a clue.

"Going into an area after a fire, you almost feel like CSI, you know, sleuthing," Knapp says.

He is standing in a part of the Stanislaus National Forest that was severely burned by the Rim Fire. Knapp, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, is studying how forests recover.

"It's completely dead," he says. "These trees won't be coming back to life."

A lot of the forest was charred like this.

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