There are calls that come every day, and then there’s the call that takes a firefighter out of state on a moment’s notice for two weeks or more.
Denver Fire Department sent a crew of eight wildland firefighters to Dodge City, Kansas this week to help fight wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma that have consumed 625 square miles.
“They’ll be sleeping in tents for two weeks,” said Denver Fire shift commander, Robert Murphy.
Murphy used to work on Denver Fire’s wildland crew. He said the department currently has 125 firefighters specially trained to tackle wildfires in Colorado and out of state. The crews usually have eight hours’ notice to pack up and hit the road.
“One minute you’re working at the firehouse or at home and the next minute you get a phone call and they expect you to be on the road,” Murphy explained.
The eight firefighters deployed to Kansas are working to dig fire lines, set backfires and put water on the flames.
“It’s going to be very hard work for 12-14 hours a day working in the extreme heat with the fire, the wind, all of the conditions you see on the news, going home at the end of the day, getting something to eat and hitting the bed because they’re going to be tired,” Murphy said.
Denver Fire also sent two brush trucks to Dodge City designed to handle rough terrain. The department is looking to send another four-member crew by Saturday. Murphy said Denver Fire makes sure the firefighters sent out of state have someone to cover their shifts back home.
“It’s a shell game,” Murphy explained. “We send numbers out, we backfill here.”
Teams of firefighters from Eagle, Evergreen and West Metro were also sent to Dodge City to help battle wildfires.