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I_WMRC_2019A 09/19/2019 09:04:44 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITTEE
Date 09/19/2019
Attendance
Carver X
Coram X
Crowder X
Cutter *
Fenberg X
Ginal X
McCluskie X
Will X
Lee X
Snyder X
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
Time 09:04:44 AM to 03:48:51 PM
Place HCR 0112
This Meeting was called to order by Representative Snyder
This Report was prepared by Julia Jackson
Hearing Items Action Taken
Division of Fire Prevention and Control Committee Discussion Only
Alert Fire Committee Discussion Only
West Region Wildfire Council Committee Discussion Only
Lunch Committee Discussion Only
Municipal Perspective on Wildfire Matters Committee Discussion Only
Colorado Springs City Council Committee Discussion Only
Public Testimony Committee Discussion Only
Committee Bill Draft Proposals Bill Requests Approved

Division of Fire Prevention and Control - Committee Discussion Only


09:05:30 AM  

Mike Morgan, Division Director, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Colorado Department of Public Safety, introduced himself to the committee and described the division's work. Committee members received a packet of information from the division (Attachment A), including presentation slides.

09:08:22 AM  

Mr. Morgan discussed the division's mission and each section. He began with the Fire and Life Safety Section, which manages the state's fire, building, and life safety codes.  He then described the Fire Investigations Section, responding to questions about the canine role in fire investigations. Mr. Morgan explained that wildfire has become a public safety problem, rather than a natural resources problem, in Colorado.

09:14:55 AM  

Mr. Morgan described the Wildland Fire Management Section and discussed its work. He responded to a question from the committee about homeowners insurance in rural areas, discussing the fire protection rating classification system.  Discussion continued on this point.

09:24:39 AM  
Mr. Morgan talked about the new Colorado
Fire Commission, its makeup, and the division's goals with the commission.
 He also noted that the Wildland Fire Management Section recently
received additional funding and discussed their plans for these funds.
09:37:34 AM  
Mr. Morgan responded to committee member
questions about the division's fire management districts and regions, and
the leadership structure of battalion and district chiefs.  He explained
a recent restructuring of this model.

Vaughn Jones, Wildland Fire Management
Section, responded to additional questions about the districts.

09:47:38 AM  

Mr. Morgan discussed the division's single engine air tanker (SEAT), helitack, and multi-mission aircraft programs.  He responded to committee member questions about the use of military vehicles in firefighting.  He noted that the division has recently authorized the use of its helicopters for night operations.

09:58:37 AM  

Ben Miller, Director, Center of Excellence in Aerial Firefighting, discussed his section's work and current projects.  Mr. Morgan responded to committee member questions about the command and control of wildfires.  Discussion on this topic ensued.

10:24:46 AM  
Mr. Miller presented additional information about the Center of Excellence.
10:31:11 AM  
Mr. Jones discussed state support to assist
and enhance local fire response.  Mr. Morgan discussed trends in state
responsibility fires and state fire suppression costs, as well as the history
of large wildfires in the state.
10:41:00 AM  
Mr. Morgan discussed the division's working group recommendations and legislation passed in 2019.



Alert Fire - Committee Discussion Only


10:48:46 AM  

Neal Driscoll and Joe Kerr, representing a consortium of the University of California San Diego, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of Nevada, Reno, presented to the committee.  They provided a handout (Attachment B) to committee members.  Mr. Driscoll described the ALERTWildfire network, which deploys high definition cameras and a microwave communications network to confirm hazards.

10:55:49 AM  

Mr. Driscoll discussed the Camp Fire and the changes in atmospheric conditions that have led to the rapid growth of wildfires.  In response to a committee member question, he noted the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

11:05:08 AM  
Mr. Driscoll demonstrated the use of the ALERTWildfire system in San Diego County over several wildfires.
11:09:40 AM  
Mr. Kerr discussed the advantages of ALERTWildfire to firefighters and fire agencies.
11:18:57 AM  

Mr. Driscoll responded to questions from the committee about the scope and reach of ALERTWildfire cameras, and the cost of building such a system in Colorado.  He suggested that a pilot in Colorado would include a hub of 20 cameras and cost approximately $1 million.



West Region Wildfire Council - Committee Discussion Only


11:25:45 AM  
Jamie Gomez, representing the West Region Wildfire Council,
discussed his organization and its work.  He explained that the group
focuses on proactive mitigation efforts in six counties in western Colorado.
11:28:48 AM  
Mr. Gomez discussed the National Cohesive
Wildland Fire Management Strategy and noted the importance of addressing
wildfire collaboratively.  He reviewed all the governments and organizations
the collaborate on wildfire issues in western Colorado.
11:49:45 AM  

Mr. Gomez discussed fuels management science and his group's work in creating defensible space and strategic shaded fuelbreaks.  He responded to a committee member question about incentives for homeowners to undertake mitigation work.

11:56:44 AM  
Mr. Gomez discussed ways to keep embers from igniting homes during wildfires, including defensible space and the use of fire-resistant building materials. He responded to a question about urban conflagration and the ways fires cause homes to burn.
12:02:23 PM  

Mr. Gomez made recommendations for financial incentives and support to conduct mitigation work in local communities.  He responded to a question about the barriers to wildfire mitigation, noting that a lack of site-specific information is a bigger barrier than costs.



Lunch - Committee Discussion Only


12:11:58 PM  
The committee recessed for lunch.
01:18:00 PM  
The committee came back to order.



Municipal Perspective on Wildfire Matters - Committee Discussion Only


01:19:18 PM  

Christy Crosser, representing the Town of Estes Park, David Wolf, representing Estes Valley Fire, and Denise Howell, representing the City of Manitou Springs provided a municipal perspective on wildfires.  Chief Wolf discussed the 2012 Woodland Heights fire and the limited destruction due to a quick response.

01:22:23 PM  

Ms. Crosser spoke about the recovery effort after the Woodland Heights fire, including grant and loan programs, multi-agency collaboration, and the need to expand local broadband.  

She also discussed the impact that news and social media has on tourism. 

01:27:40 PM  

Ms. Crosser explained the vulnerability of their communication network during harsh weather conditions and natural disasters, and discussed future opportunites.

01:30:54 PM  

Ms. Crosser mentioned that Estes Park understands the importance of collaboration and has pursued additional partnerships, including joining the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Network.

01:32:10 PM  

Ms. Crosser indicated that it is importation to have plans, processes, and policies in place in advance of a disaster.

There was a discussion about future mitigation and education.  Chief Wolf said that there are plans with the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service regarding operations during a fire where there are shared boundaries.

There was a discussion about communication when 911 is down.

01:42:09 PM  

Ms. Howell talked about the City of Manitou Springs including expeiriencing a damaging event (fires and floods) every six years.

01:47:15 PM  

She explained that the City of Manitou Springs has created an integrated community master plan, a hazardous risk assessment, and a mitigation strategy, and mentioned that education is key for businesses, homeowners, and tourists.

01:48:45 PM  

Ms. Howell explained the work Manitou Springs has done on updating planning codes and creating assessments to determine if a property is at risk.

01:49:52 PM  

She explained that the city has met with county emergency management and taken a community approach with fire adapted communities.

01:53:16 PM  

There was a discussion about grant programs for fire mitigation and the 50 percent local match, advanced warning systems for floods and reverse 911 capabilities.  



02:01:27 PM

Cooper Revelry, representing the Department of Public Safety, and Mr. Morgan, talked about bill requests.  The department is interested in legislation that would increase the benefit structure for certain employees in the Fire Prevention and Control Division.  The proposal includes changing the definition of state trooper to include Fire Prevention and Control employees.  In addition,  Fire Prevention and Control would become a qualified employer for benefits in the Cancer Trust and Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust.  Mr. Morgan explained that there are many healthcare studies showing that firefighters are at a greater risk for cancer, heart, and circulatory issues.



Colorado Springs City Council - Committee Discussion Only


02:18:38 PM  

Brett Lacy, Jeremy Taylor, and Richard Skorman, all representing the City of Colorado Springs talked about mitigation.  The group is interested in creating a special district to cooperate on mitigation, chipping, and evacuation planning.  There are also goals to respond to fires rapidly, and perhaps patrol a fire prone area.  All of these activities will be beneficial to the Fountain Creek Watershed.  

02:24:15 PM  

Mr. Lacy indicated that the southwest area of Colorado Springs has steep topography and one-way, narrow streets and exaplined that there is a need for ongoing education, as the area has a 12 percent turnover each year.

02:36:39 PM  

Discussion continued about special districts and maintaining watersheds.



Public Testimony - Committee Discussion Only


02:48:51 PM  

Hansen Wendlandt, representing the Nederland Interagency Council for Homeless Encampment (NICHE), testified about a program for homeless campers. 

02:57:40 PM  
Tommy Sloan, representing the Boulder County Sheriff's Office,
talked about homeless camping issues and the agency's work with NICHE.
03:03:55 PM  
There was a discussion about the reason for homeless encampments and other homeless issues.



Committee Bill Draft Proposals - Bill Requests Approved


03:09:18 PM  

Megan Waples and Bob Lackner led the discussion about bill drafting.



03:15:09 PM
Motion Concerning updating the wildfire mitigation grant program, including reviewing eligibility guidelines and adjusting the 50 percent match.
Moved Carver
Seconded Crowder
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:17:39 PM
Motion Concerning the registration and titling of military vehicles in the DRIVES system using pre-2017 requirements.
Moved Crowder
Seconded Coram
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:19:23 PM
Motion Concerning a pilot program for ALERT fire technology.
Moved Coram
Seconded Fenberg
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:20:32 PM
Motion Concerning changing the firefighter position classification within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control to state trooper for Heart and Circulation and Cancer Trust benefit eligibility; and PERA retirement eligibility.
Moved Lee
Seconded Snyder
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:21:36 PM
Motion Reduce wildfires in the wildland urban interface through homeless outreach and education.
Moved Fenberg
Seconded Lee
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:23:48 PM
Motion Concerning governmental immunity for prescribed burns, including local fire departments.
Moved Coram
Seconded Will
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:27:11 PM
Motion Concerning the requirement that new builds in tiers one, two, and three fire areas use wildfire resistant materials.
Moved Cutter
Seconded Will
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:43:58 PM
Motion Concerning the creation of a special fire district, based on the wildland urban interface and risk of wildfire. The proposed district will cross federal, state, and local districts.
Moved Snyder
Seconded Lee
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection


03:44:57 PM
Motion Concerning the support of individual homeowners in mitigation efforts.
Moved Cutter
Seconded Crowder
Carver
Coram
Crowder
Cutter
Fenberg
Ginal
McCluskie
Will
Lee
Snyder
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection



03:47:42 PM

There was a reminder about the October 10, 2019 field trip to Colorado Springs, as well as the meeting on October 31, 2019 for voting on the final bill drafts.


03:48:51 PM   The committee adjourned.






The House and Senate are temporarily adjourned.  The building is closed to the public.

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