Firefighters hold exercise at shooting range |

Firefighters hold exercise at shooting range

A large contingent of wildland firefighters listens to instructions last week during training exercises at the Byers Canyon Shooting Range.
Courtesy photo |

First responders in Grand County are a proud bunch.

Their pride comes from the work they do, the lives the save, and the hardships they endure in pursuit of service to the community at large. Winter, summer, spring and fall; year round our local firefighters, EMTs, search and rescue volunteers and law officers are called upon to risk their own lives to save others.

There is no down season for the first responders in Grand County. During winter months icy roads and dangerous snowstorms wreak havoc on the highways and the summer months are a time of heightened wildfire concern. That is why our local first responders train so often.

Last week multiple local agencies came together, under threatening high country skies, for a training exercise and barbecue. The event included all five of the fire protection districts in Grand County along with the US Forest Service and Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin.

East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth outlined the scene. “Wildland Fire Engines from the host District Hot Sulphur/Parshall FPD, Kremmling FPD, Grand FPD, Grand Lake FPD, and East Grand FPD assembled at the Byers Canyon Rifle Range, scene of a series of wildfires over the years.”

Holzwarth’s comment is a reference to multiple fires that have been sparked at the Rifle Range in recent years. In 2015 the Rifle Range Fire was sparked in the same location. The fire burned up significant portions of the Parshall Divide, jumped US Highway 40, and threatened the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. The Rifle Range saw three fire outbreaks by mid-July in 2012.

According to Holzwarth a total of 40 firefighters and 11 engines of varying types participated in the training exercise along with a plethora of support vehicles. Firefighters worked on progressive hose lay drills, digging fire lines, radio communication orientation, vehicle familiarization and weather information gathering.

“We had wind, lightening, a brief rain show and a setting sun rainbow to remind us how fun the outdoors can be,” Holzwarth stated. “The training continued uninterrupted.”

Holzwarth called the exercises, “a valuable experience for all,” and noted the 2017 wildfire season is underway.

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