Within the suburbs and foothills west of Denver, CO, West Metro Fire Rescue has been engaged in wildfire education and outreach since 2007; their efforts have produced two Firewise USA™ sites, but like the majority of fire departments, fuels reduction projects are often limited by capacity and funding.
Knowing collaboration and creativity are essential to addressing those challenges, wildfire mitigation specialist/firefighter Steve Orr connected with Team Rubicon following a series of unexplained fires in an area called Green Mountain to initiate a conversation about the possibility of working on a project to remove dense brush adjacent to property lines of the homes in that area. Most of the residences in that area were built during the 1960s and 70s with wood fences/decks and vulnerable home ignition zones, which increased their risk.
Orr was successful in getting Team Rubicon volunteers involved and ultimately the project grew to also include the City of Lakewood, and the Green Mountain Civic Association. Prior to the project West Metro Fire Rescue went door-to-door notify residents and to provide them with information about steps they could take to reduce their wildfire risks.
Working with Team Rubicon, who handled the majority of the logistical and operational functions using sixty enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers, vegetation was removed that yielded around 50 cubic yards of wood chips. With more work to be done, plans have been made with Team Rubicon to return to do additional work, with hopes that they can also assist with future projects. By seeking out untraditional resources, Firefighter Orr was able to deliver much needed resources to the West Metro Fire Rescue community!
Team Rubicon’s primary mission is providing disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters, be they domestic or international. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, Team Rubicon aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible. Through continued service, Team Rubicon seeks to provide veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and identity, from recognizing the impact one individual can make. Coupled with leadership development and other opportunities, Team Rubicon looks to help veterans transition from military to civilian life.