Waldo Canyon Fire Preparation Paid Off

Essay by johnigCollege, UndergraduateA-, October 2014

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Johni Mak

The fire began 23 June, 2012 in the Pike National Forest, approximately three miles west of the City of Colorado Springs (City), and to the north of Highway 24 in El Paso County. The fire burned 18,247 acres over 18 days and was reported as fully contained on 10 July 2012. The Waldo Canyon Fire was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, destroying 347 homes and damaging many others. It prompted evacuations of nearly 29,000 people. Tragically, two individuals lost their lives as a result of the Fire. The fire triggered insurance claims of $353 million, also the highest total in any Colorado wildfire, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The Incident Commander for the Waldo Canyon Fire was Rich Harvey. A Firefighter with 30 years of experience, Mr. Harvey had recently been nominated as the Great Basin Incident Commander, heading up the Great Basin National Incident Management Team.

As a new appointee on a 3 year term, Mr. Harvey proved his expertise invaluable in planning for and bringing under control the blaze that is recorded as Colorado's most destructive fire yet. As Incident Commander it was Mr. Harvey's responsibility to ensure all goals were met, and realistic expectations are placed on the people, materials and assets that are required to meet those goals. His leadership is the direct line to controlling the fire and managing the resources involved in response and recovery for the areas devastated by this particular incident.

As one of the responsibilities of the Incident Commander, the decision was made to collocate the Fire and Police command posts, and this was a considerable strength considering the size of the incident. As noted in the After Action Report, this made it easier for communication, which was...