Aspen to host firefighting seminar |

Aspen to host firefighting seminar

For fire officials grappling with how to serve people who live near wilderness – one of the West’s thorniest issues – there are few better places to study the problem than Aspen.That is one reason more than 100 Colorado firefighters and their families are coming to town next month for a training seminar put on by the National Fire Academy.”Aspen is a classic example” of where wildlands are meeting residential homes and other urban developments, said Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob. Actually, “every place in the Roaring Fork Valley is a classic example,” he said.As homes creep deeper into wilderness, fire mitigation efforts become increasingly difficult. Coupled with a series of drought years, “it becomes a very big issue, indeed,” Grob said.While Aspen is a fitting choice to discuss the wildland-urban interface, there are other reasons the seminar is coming here. Past efforts to offer this type of training at other sites have not been particularly successful in attracting firefighters, Grob said.Helping to rectify that are Aspen’s scenic surroundings. And the time of year doesn’t hurt, either. The training will be held Sept. 10-11.Firefighters will “get to come up to the high country in mid-September, when it’s just gorgeous out,” Grob said. “We thought if perhaps we could match the National Fire Academy training with an opportunity for the 14,000 or 15,000 firefighters in the state to come to someplace a little bit extraordinary, such as Aspen, maybe it would generate some interest.”Blair Elliot, training officer for the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department and vice president of the Colorado Fire Training Officers Association, was instrumental in bringing the seminar to Aspen. Along with the wildland-urban interface subject, instruction will also be provided on topics such as leadership, incident safety and teaching methods. The event is aimed at fire officers, unit commanders and chiefs.Two instructors from the National Fire Academy will lead the classes, which cost $40.”They will offer an executive summary of courses that might normally take a week,” Grob said. “So in the course of two days, [participants] will get a very intensive presentation on a given subject.”The Mountain Chalet and the Gems of Aspen, a group of lodging properties, are offering discounted rooms to attendees. Firefighters will be coming from around the state, and Grob expects firefighters from throughout the valley to attend, as well.”This is going to be a successful event,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

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