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I_WMRC_2021A 08/12/2021 09:02:50 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITTEE
Date 08/12/2021
Attendance
Coram X
Lee X
Lynch X
Simpson X
Snyder X
Story E
Valdez D. X
Will E
Ginal X
Cutter X
Time 09:02:50 AM to 03:53:19 PM
Place Old State Library
This Meeting was called to order by Cutter
This Report was prepared by Anne Wallace
Hearing Items Action Taken
Opening Remarks Committee Discussion Only
Federal Perspectives on Wildfire Management Committee Discussion Only
Insurance Issues and Wildfire Committee Discussion Only
Wildfire Detection and Response Technology Committee Discussion Only
Utilities and Wildfire Committee Discussion Only
Firefighting Workforce Challenges and the SWIFT Program Committee Discussion Only
Public Testimony Committee Discussion Only

Opening Remarks - Committee Discussion Only


09:03:21 AM  
Representative Cutter, Chair, called the meeting to order and made announcements about the agenda.



Federal Perspectives on Wildfire Management - Committee Discussion Only


09:06:03 AM  
Jaqueline Buchanan,
U.S. Forest Service, presented regarding the 2020 wildfire season and the
U.S. Forest Service's work on mitigation and response.  She discussed
budgetary concerns, workforce issues, and the importance of state and federal
cooperation to work on mitigation.  

09:24:08 AM  
Ms. Buchanan responded
to committee questions about federal wildfire recovery efforts.



Insurance Issues and Wildfire - Committee Discussion Only


09:59:27 AM  
Commissioner Michael
Conway, Colorado Division of Insurance, presented to the committee regarding
homeowner's insurance and wildfire issues, using a power point. The Commissioner's
presentation, and all other presentations may be accessed here:
http://leg.colorado.gov/content/iwmrc2021acommsched.
 He discussed different types of homeowner's insurance and insurance's
role in wildfire recovery. Commissioner Conway discussed the availability
and affordability of insurance and the claims process.  He provided
data on insurance claims from the 2020 wildfires in Colorado, and summarized
other states' approaches to insurance and disaster mitigation.    
10:21:50 AM  
Carole Walker, Rocky
Mountain Insurance Association (RMIA), presented to the committee regarding
insurance and wildfires, using a powerpoint.  She discussed increased
insurance claims related to catastrophes in Colorado, increased home building
costs, and the importance of mitigation. Ms. Walker discussed educating
homeowners and communities on the risks of wildfire and the importance
of insurance.
10:43:37 AM  
Ms. Walker and Commissioner
Conway responded to committee questions regarding homeowner incentives
to mitigate their property, insurance company profits, a state-sponsored
insurance pool, and issues with insurance adjusters.



Wildfire Detection and Response Technology - Committee Discussion Only


11:21:37 AM  
Karen Jefferson,
Rocky Mountain TSG, presented regarding new wildfire detection and response
technology, using a powerpoint. She discussed technology to detect smoke
and firefighter fatigue. Rod Goossen, RoGO, presented regarding technology
to ensure communicate and location tracking of firefighters on remote sites.
 
11:35:33 AM  
Mr. Goossen and Ms.
Jefferson responded to committee questions regarding RoGO technology and
smoke detection cameras.
11:42:09 AM  
The committee recessed for lunch.
01:03:50 PM  
The committee came
back to order. Michael Morgan, Director, Division of Fire Prevention and
Control, and Ben Miller, Director, Center of Excellence for the Advanced
Technology Aerial Firefighting, presented to the committee regarding technology
updates, using a powerpoint. The presenters discussed Center of Excellence
wildland fire technology, unmanned systems, and aviation projects.
01:26:11 PM  
Mr. Miller and Director
Morgan responded to committee questions regarding communication in wildland
areas, fire predicting technology, and funding for wildfire technology.



Utilities and Wildfire - Committee Discussion Only


01:48:14 PM  
Tim Coleman, Colorado Rural Electric Association, presented to the committee regarding wildfires in electric cooperatives territory. Paul Erickson, Sangre De Cristo Electric Association, presented regarding successes and difficulties conducting wildfire mitigation. Jeff Wadsworth, Poudre Valley REA, presented regarding vegetation management and utilites' right of way.
02:15:34 PM  
Mr. Erickson, Mr.
Coleman, and Mr. Wadsworth responded to committee questions regarding communication
with federal authorities, difficulty enforcing a utility's right of way,
and cooperative liability during fires.
02:35:42 PM  
Sandra Johnson, Xcel
Energy, presented regarding Xcel Energy's wildfire mitigation plan using
a powerpoint. She discussed the impact of 2020 wildfires on Xcel's assets
and customers. Ms. Johnson summarized Xcel's plan to minimize risks of
wildfire, which includes increased inspections, hardening equipment, conducting
high fire threat operations, and engaging community and the industry.  



Firefighting Workforce Challenges and the SWIFT Program - Committee Discussion Only


02:53:31 PM  
Jessica Warren, Colorado
Correctional Industries, presented regarding employment of people who are
incarcerated in Colorado.  She discussed the State Wildland Inmate
Fire Team (SWIFT) program participants, the areas to which they have been
deployed, and their wages. Ms. Warren summarized 2021 legislation that
will expand the opportunities for participants in the SWIFT program.  Mr.
Lee, SWIFT participant, discussed his experience with the SWIFT program
and the skills he learned through the program.  
03:07:09 PM  
Ms. Warren and Ruth
Coffman, Colorado Department of Corrections, responded to committee questions
regarding SWIFT crews, challenges with the SWIFT program, and utilizing
the SWIFT program for mitigation work.
03:16:48 PM  
Chied David Wolf,
Estes Valley Fire Protection District, presented regarding firefighting
workforce challenges, using a powerpoint. He discussed challenges, including
limited housing and demographic issues, in Estes Valley. Mr. Wolf provided
suggestions for state assistance for volunteer firefighters.
03:24:13 PM  
Chief Brad White,
Grand Valley Fire Protection District, presented regarding challenges with
attracting and retaining firefighting workers, using a powerpoint. He explained
Grand Valley's staffing model and changes over time. Chief White discussed
staffing challenges with volunteer firefighter, career staff, and resident
firefighters. Chief White discussed incentives, funding options for fire
protection districts, and developing surge capacity.
03:41:28 PM  
Chief White and Chief Wolf responded to committee questions regarding SWIFT crews.



Public Testimony - Committee Discussion Only


03:42:55 PM  
Michele Robbins,
representing herself, testified regarding insurance issues and wildfire.
She responded to questions from the committee.


03:53:19 PM   The committee adjourned.