Guest column: Keep your guard up during fire season | SkyHiNews.com
Ronald D. Thompson
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Guest column: Keep your guard up during fire season

Well, here we are in summer season again. Just because the weather is nice, the grass is growing, and all looks to be well in our neighborhoods, that doesn't mean we can let our guard down. As the weather changes and the air become drier, the wind is constantly drying out the wildland fuels that are all around us. We need to be vigilant about keeping our yards and landscaping trimmed and away from our houses. We need to make sure our wood piles are kept away from wooden structures, such as sheds and especially our houses. Having a garden hose connected to an outside spigot during the summer is a good idea. If you want to have a backyard campfire, make sure you have a good fire ring and at least three feet of clear ground around the fire area. Using a fire pit with a screen is a great way to control any embers being produced from your "friendly" fire.

We would like for all residents to be "situationally" aware and have completed their "Emergency Plan" for all types of incidents that could occur in our community. Make sure you have good means of communication and you have an "outside the area" point of contact to notify about your status during a fire event. Sign up for "Code Red" emergency notification service to receive information in the event of an emergency. Scout out and determine at least two ways (if possible) of egress/escape from your residential neighborhood. Completing all of these actions in preparation for a fire or other emergency could decide whether you escape safely or you do not escape at all.

We want to encourage you to have reflective address signs at the entrance to your property or at the end of your driveway. Information about how to get these signs is available at http://www.bewildfireready.org or by contacting Schelly Olson at 970-887-3380. All of the fire departments in our county offer information and assistance with home ignition zone assessments and mitigation plans for your property to make it as fire resistant as possible.

Firefighters throughout the county have received their annual wildland firefighting training and refreshers so they are ready to respond in the event of a wildland fire in our area. Our response team works closely together when wildland fires strike and includes Grand County government (sheriff's office, Office of Emergency Management/EMS, road and bridge), Arapaho National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Rocky Mountain National Park, Granby, Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs/Parshall, Grand Lake and East Grand Fire Protection Districts, and local law enforcement agencies.

Ron Thompson is the Fire Chief and District Administrator for Grand Fire Protection District No. 1. He is a third-generation Fire Chief from Missouri who assumed leadership of Grand Fire in January 2014. During his career he served as Fire Chief in Pagosa Springs, Colo.; Deputy Chief in Independence, Mo.; Fire/EMS Bureau Commander in Gladstone, Mo., and most recently was employed as deputy chief of the Inspection Unit for the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.