Firefighters on the front lines of climate change
Dear Governor Hickenlooper, Senator Gardner, and Senator Bennett:
As Colorado firefighters and residents we are concerned about the escalating risks associated with our shifting wildfire regime. Extreme fire behavior creates unprecedented risk for firefighters on the frontlines and puts whole communities at risk. We are doing our part to mitigate risk and work together to make our neighborhoods safe but we need your support.
As you know, 2015 was the hottest and most fire-intense year on record. More than 10 million acres burned and the USFS spent 1.3 billion dollars on fire suppression. Federal and state budgets and staff are being stretched as never before to fight fire. The climate is changing – warmer temperatures, drought conditions and our earlier-and-faster melting snowpack – leads to drier conditions with more fuel to ignite potentially deadly wildfires. Warming temperatures contribute to extreme weather events that create unpredictable, and sometimes deadly conditions for firefighters and homeowners.
The May-October fire season is a thing of the past – Colorado now has a year-round fire season, putting our firefighters in even more danger. Just this past February wildfires ignited close to Front Range neighborhoods.
By 2050, 20 million acres are predicted to burn annually and we need to be prepared. The good news is we have the tools to address our growing wildfire problem.
There’s much that you and the State of Colorado can—and should—be doing including:
We can’t wait for the next devastating fire, we need to take proactive measures now as state to ensure we can keep our firefighters and communities safe. We call on you to change the trajectory of climate change and the fire landscape through supporting clean and renewable energy.