This summer Moffat County will become host to a Hotshot Crew firefighting team. The 20-person crew, and the families they might bring with them, will be moving into the community. To accommodate the firefighters, a new station, barracks and training area to be built on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property.
Hotshot Crews are professional wildland fire suppression teams, which operate under the auspices of several government offices, such as the U.S. Forest Service or the BLM. These teams are specially trained, organized and equipped for rapid response anywhere in North America. All crew members are available for duty 24-hours a day, 7 days-a-week during the fire season.
This Hotshot Crew will be a brand new team, according to Lynn Barclay, public affairs specialist and fire information officer for the BLM. The hiring process is ongoing and based on a list of qualified candidates. The position of crew superintendent has been filled.
"This will be a Type I crew; they will be line building specialists," said Barclay. "When the team is available, they will be a huge advantage for the local community for fighting fires, for initial attack, for the Fuel Reduction Program and for prescribed burns."
Because it is a national resource, all funding for the Hotshot team is covered by the federal budget. Funding for the construction of the Hotshot facility has been allocated and three sites are under analysis. Barclay said areas near Western Knolls, Cedar Mountain and Hayden Gulch are the choices being evaluated.
Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Roy Mason was excited to hear about the development.
"It's good for the area. If we ever need them, they are great to have so close. It's a big plus for Northwest Colorado," he said.
Mason said the Hotshot Crew hiring process "probably won't affect" the fire department.
"Those guys are a pretty elite group, and I don't see any of my guys becoming a part of that. You could end up being away for months if the season is right, and that's hard for people with a family."
The Colorado branch of the U.S. Forest Service will also be getting a Hotshot team, to be stationed in Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest. Several Hotshot Crews are already stationed in Colorado. They are in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park and Pike/San Isabel National Forest in Colorado Springs.