State of Colorado’s Lessons Learned from Spring Fire 2018

Unfortunately, throughout much of the western half of the USA, wildfires have become all too common. Moreover, with the recent fires in California this month, things seem to be getting worse. Wildfires and other natural disasters can have significant impacts to communications systems affecting not only personal cellular communications but also first responder and other mission-critical communications. Fire, police, emergency workers and other first responders need communications during natural disasters more than ever and this is precisely the time when thing just need to work.

The engineers at the State of Colorado have summarized the lessons learned regarding their communications systems during 2018 Spring Fire in Colorado. If you are responsible for a mission-critical communications network, you should download this paper and read the recommendations from the State of Colorado about building and operating communications systems during wildfires.

On June 27, 2018, a wildfire ignited and spread through the mountains and valleys around La Veta, in Costilla County, Southern Colorado. Now known as the Spring Fire, the blaze lasted more than two months, scorching more than 100,000 acres of wooded terrain and destroying over 100 homes. U.S. Highway 160, which crosses over La Veta Pass, closed on June 27 and only reopened on September 15. On September 10, the Costilla County Office of Emergency Management reported that the fire was one hundred percent contained.

“Many lessons were learned in Colorado’s Spring Fire. In the La Veta area, it became apparent that the major factors were the ruggedness and reliability of the microwave site and the hardening practices used to minimize the impact of the fire. All states and all agencies tasked with operating public safety networks and managing disaster response would do well to note these points. Taking these precautions and heeding the lessons learned in Colorado could reduce loss of life and significantly limit network and other property damage.”  

—Peter Bangas, State of Colorado, Public Safety Communications Manager

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