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Colorado shifts staff, buys $24 million helicopter for year-round fire risk

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control is making its staffing less seasonal and purchasing a helicopter to be more prepared to fight fires year-round.

COLORADO, USA — The inferno that swept into Louisville and Superior last month proved the destructive power of a winter wildfire, but many of the aircraft and crews available in the late spring, summer and fall to fight massive Western blazes are not working in the heart of winter when many fire-prone states should see snow. 

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control is making changes to its staffing to be less seasonal and purchasing a $24 million Type 1 helicopter to be more prepared to fight fire year-round, as wildfire becomes more of a constant threat. But it's an ongoing process, said Mike Morgan, division director. 

"We are trying to adapt to it, but we are still a little bit behind," he said. 

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Preparing to fight fire in winter is also a balance for public agencies because it can be expensive to extend contracts for aircraft and crews into the winter when fires have historically been unlikely, Morgan said.

Many firefighting aircraft also need to have their engines rebuilt during the winter, Ralph Bellah, spokesman for the Blodgett Peak fire, previously told The Gazette.

> Read the full story at denvergazette.com

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