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Wildfire Exercise 5/20/16

Earl Perry's picture

Regional wildfire exercise

Whatever the real weather on 5/20/16, the beginning of the regional Wildfire Exercise in Boulder Mountain Fire District will feature virtual high temperatures, low humidity, roaring west winds, and extreme fire behavior. Exercise details were designed by Rob Bozeman of BMFPD to simulate a very fast-expanding “wildfire” in the mountains and canyons of the Wildland Urban Interface.  As up to 25 agencies and more than 300 responders are drawn into the test incident, you can expect to see extra traffic on Lee Hill and in Boulder Heights.  Later in the day, as the wind carries virtual embers east, the fire will spot out of Boulder Heights.  By Saturday, May 21, it will be in North Boulder neighborhoods.  Helicopter traffic, air support, water drops, evacuations – the exercise is designed to test the responding agencies with all the elements of a blow-up wildland/urban fire incident from initial response to mass care management.  By end of day Friday, May 20, our district involvement will be done, but it will be just getting going around the region.

This is a drill, but we are making it as realistic as possible.  Please note that we have reserve plans for handling any real incidents that come up during the exercise.  If something happens, dial 911.

Look for activity in the following areas:

Between Mine Lane Road and Carriage Hills, near BMFD Fire Station 1
     Structure defense and fire suppression operations
2801 Jay Road
     Simulation evacuation drill site where volunteers will be evacuated to and assessed 
     by the Access and Functional Needs team.  Special thanks to the BMFPD residents who are   volunteering.

Wonderland Lake and Dakota Ridge Subdivision
     Helicopter bucket drops to simulate air operations and practice pilot accuracy
Boulder County Fairground, Longmont
     Simulated Animal Control evacuations of horses/large animals

Boulder Reservoir
     Potential traffic to and from the Fire Training Center as part of the management escalation

 Elements being tested include the ability of our first response system to handle a rapidly escalating incident, using effective incident management, quick resource mobilization, and transitioning the incident command from Boulder Mountain fire and other local departments to our local specialized Boulder Incident Management Team. 

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management has been working with the North Central Region All–Hazards Region for the past 18 months preparing the training exercise, which is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) via a grant from the State Homeland Security Grant Program. To load the entire response system, three other counties are to be involved, creating a regional simulated incident.  This is designed to test the State Emergency Operations Center.  DHSEM staff are involved in the exercise to test the State’s ability to manage resource scarcity while supporting multiple counties affected by a regional problem.

Disaster response is a partnership between first responders, local, state and federal governments, disaster-relief organizations - and the public. Having a pre-developed emergency plan, putting together an emergency kit, and understanding how to stay informed is essential to a resilient community.  This exercise should remind you that you need to be prepared for any potential disaster by having your own preparedness plan.  We can help, but you are the key to your own safety.

For more information about preparing for a disaster, please visit:

For more information about the full-scale exercise prior to May 20, contact the Office of Emergency Management at 303-441-3390.  For local district information, BMFPD is at 303 440 0235.

Earl Perry, Boulder Mountain Fire Public Information Officer