Six fire agencies in El Paso County have joined together to create the Southern Colorado Interagency Wildland Fire Team in an effort to help protect their communities.
Those involved include the Hanover Fire Protection District, Fountain Fire Department, Stratmoor Hills Fire Protection District, Security Fire Protection District, Fort Carson Fire & Emergency Services and the Southwest Highway 115 Fire Protection District.
The 18-member Wildland Fire Team is made up of volunteers specifically trained in wildland firefighting.
While all of the locations have their own staff, Stratmoor Hills Fire Chief Shawn Bittle said the volunteer component will allow for increased manpower without impacting the agency's restricted budgets.
"We kind of changed our policies and said, 'Hey, this is such a significant danger to our communities. If you want to come on and just specialize in wildland firefighting, we will take you on and we will form this team,'" he said.
The six agencies already work together on major incidents like car crashes and structure fires, according to Bittle. The Stratmoor Hills Fire Protection District has one station, covering approximately four square miles on the south end of Colorado Springs.
"We identified that with the rising threat of wildfire, and especially the wildland-urban interface fires, that we needed to take additional steps to make sure that our community was safe," Bittle said.
He also said they'd like to recruit more members to the team next month.
"So maybe it would be a wildland firefighter who's recently moved to the area, but is not affiliated with an organization or maybe it's someone who's always wanted to get involved with wildland and has never had the opportunity," Bittle said.
Applicants will be assigned to a department or district based on their physical address. Bittle said all equipment needs will be handled by the agencies.
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