On April 6, the Wildland Fire Operations Division field office in Denver, hosted a delegation of six individuals from Russia, two interpreters, and three USDA Forest Service staff members that were escorting the group. The contingent made their way to the Denver office via Molly Mowery, our program manager for Fire Adapted Communities and International Outreach. Through one of her many outreach activities she connected with Brad Kinder with the USDA Forest Service International Programs, where he works as a program specialist with Russia, Europe, and Near Asia.
Prior to arriving at the Denver field office, the group had been to DC, Colorado State University’s Wildland Fire Science Laboratory, and the Rocky Mountain airport tanker base. Once the group arrived at our location they were given an overview of NFPA, the Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities program, by Dave Nuss, manager of NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division. After a quick (locally headquartered) lunch at Chipotle, where interpreters had to help place potentially confusing orders, the afternoon field trip commenced to two local Firewise Communities.
The field trip was led by Keith Worley, a Firewise regional advisor for the Southwest, professional forester and certified arborist. For those of you who haven’t met Keith, he has an engaging and colorful presentation style that kept the group’s two Russian interpreters on their toes trying to keep up with his narration.
Site visits included the Woodlands-Escavera five hundred home community located in the Villages at Castle Rock in Castle Rock, CO, and the seven hundred home Perry Park development in Larkspur, CO. Woodlands-Escavera obtained their Firewise Community status in 2009, and Perry Park has maintained their status since 2002. Worley arranged for Castle Rock Fire Chief Art Morales to join the group at the stop in his jurisdiction and Randy Johnson, the Fire Marshal with the Larkspur Fire Department during the Perry Park visit.
The delegation took loads of pictures and asked lots of questions while touring the fuel treatments on community open spaces, defensible space at the homeowner level, the fire and fuel breaks and the forest management thinning projects. They had plenty of questions about how residents receive wildland fire information and education, what motivates homeowners to implement mitigation projects and take personal responsibility, funding, and what laws or role government played in mitigation projects. They were amazed at how many homeowners do the work themselves! Questions abounded about the size of the home’s lots, square footage, taxes, and utilities. At the end of the trip, pictures with Fire Marshal Randy Johnson overlooking the spectacular hillside views of Perry Park were a must have souvenir.