Unacceptable Risk

Firefighters on the front lines of climate change

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20 Jan 0 Comment

Firefighters to Governor, Senator: “Take Fast Action on Climate Change”

This week a group of Colorado firefighters traveled to Denver, meeting with the offices of Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner.

At the State Capitol, they sat down with Governor John Hickenlooper’s senior staff to discuss the impacts of climate change on the shifting fire regime in Colorado and proposed solutions. They also delivered a letter signed by 160+ supporters like you, urging the Governor to “allocate adequate funds to prevent and manage wildfires and to accelerate clean, renewable energy production.”

Since progress has been slow and the issue is urgent, they told Hickenlooper’s office that Coloradans can’t wait: “We need to take proactive measures to keep firefighters and communities safe. The Governor can change the trajectory of climate change and the fire landscape by creating — as he likes to say — ‘Colorado solutions.’”

In the wake of nearly 4,200 devastating wildfires in 2012, the Governor has taken steps to contain and stop wildfires, including:

  • $20 million to buy 2 planes and 4 helicopters to spot and drop water or slurry on fires
  • A task force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health
  • A state board to loan funds for forest-thinning efforts
  • Prescribed fires to reduce the risk of devastating fire
  • A $600,000 wildfire detection system

While DFPC has addressed detection and suppression, there is a huge opportunity to collectively plan for our extreme wildfire vulnerability in Colorado. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office to supply information and make recommendations.

The firefighters then relayed the same letter and similar messages to Senator Gardner’s top staff.

Climate change is causing warming temperatures, which is melting our snowpack earlier and faster, leading to drier forests with more fuel to ignite potentially deadly wildfires. Warming temperatures also contribute to weather pattern changes and extreme weather events that create unpredictable and unprecedented conditions for firefighters. We need to take action to mitigate these climate impacts.

That’s where you come in.

Until our lawmakers and policy leaders hear from their constituents that climate change and its deadly effects must be addressed, they will continue to neglect our wildfire problem until smoke is in the air. By 2050, 20 million acres are projected to burn annually and we to address our growing wildfire risk before it’s too late.

We want you to join our movement; to act now and to make our often quiet voices heard.

Lawmakers at both the state and federal level care about your phone calls and emails and letters. They’ll pay even more attention to your questions and comments at town hall meetings, especially if you’ve brought other constituents with you and the media is covering the event. You don’t have to be an expert, just a constituent. Remember: they work for you.

>>> Use social media

Share our video about the firefighters’ visit on Twitter by clicking here or on Facebook by clicking here. It’s important our message gets out and our decision makers see it.

You can also write your own post and tag Colorado decision makers in your social media posts. Thank them for their work and encourage them to #ActOnClimate

>>> Contact your local policy-makers here and your Congressional reps here.

Urge their support of smart policies that address climate impacts and that encourage renewable energy to reduce warming carbon emissions from other energy production.

You can keep your message simple:

“We can’t wait – climate change is affecting all of us, right now. We need to take proactive measures to keep our firefighters and communities safe. What are you doing to change the trajectory of climate change and the fire landscape?”

Or you can go more in-depth

with a letter, email or call like this. Including your own personal story will increase its impact.


Our May-October fire season is a thing of the past. We’ve seen record-breaking temperatures as well as record-breaking droughts and snowfall. Such changes can be a formula for wildfires. As Coloradans, we need to continue the conversation about our changing climate, the driving force of these frequent, intense and unpredictable fires. Warming temperatures combined with increased development in the Wildland Urban Interface and other factors create more opportunities for devastating wildfires. According to the U.S. Forest Service, climate change has increased the length of the average fire season by 78 days since 1970.  As wildfires worsen, we need to plan and budget for a shifting fire regime, and rethink where and how we develop in our growing state.  By taking action today to mitigate climate impacts we can effectively decrease the risks and costs of wildfire. You can support our firefighters by supporting policies that address the root cause of wildfires: climate change; and the root cause of climate change: harmful carbon pollution.“We can’t wait – climate change is affecting all of us, right now. We need to take proactive measures to keep our firefighters and communities safe. What are you doing to change the trajectory of climate change and the fire landscape?”

>>> Organize a screening in your community

Organize a screening with your local elected official, Fire Department, HOA, or friends. Invite local firefighters who can speak to their experience on the ground.

  • Request a DVD here to use in your screening in Colorado (it’s free)
  • Download the film on demand for community uses outside of Colorado, here ($9.95)
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