The forest has close to 250 permanent & temporary firefighters (almost half the workforce) including 14 engines/crews, three 20-person hand crews (two of which are Type 1 “hotshot” crews), 3 bulldozers, 2 water tenders (trucks) and a Type 2 helicopter. An additional 80 part-time personnel rotate as members of two “on-call” hand crews, a very successful program in its second year of operation. Ground resources are assisted by routine fixed-wing airplane reconnaissance (recon) flights that occur regularly during periods of lightning and more often as conditions warrant. Many other local, state and federal resources, including air tankers and helicopters, are available via regional and national dispatch centers.
Also staffed are Pikes Peak, Mills, Dixie, Smith, Mt. Hough and Thompson Peak Lookouts. “We had extensive windstorm damage and vandalism to the Thompson Peak facility in late spring and the building is unsafe to use, meaning our staffing is now based out of a fire vehicle on the peak vs the building,” noted French. Costly repair needs, including those of the damaged radio system, have been identified and funding to supplement existing forest budgets is being secured while contracts are being prepared. “The facility is very important to us and will be back in use once it’s repaired,” said French. The Mt. Hough Ranger District is preparing to re-open Red Rock Lookout to supplement lookout coverage on the northern boundary of the forest. The look-out has been closed for the last 6 years. It also sustained weather damage and vandalism although far less severe than neighboring Thompson Peak; impacts from a mouse infestation are being treated and some repairs will be needed. Staffing will be balanced with Thompson Peak; it may be full time at one site and partial at the other, or a different blend to provide coverage.
Residents are encouraged to visit their local County, Firesafe Council & other emergency services websites for helpful information about protecting their families, homes and property before, during and after emergencies.