Fire Preparedness, Part 2

This week’s column continues concerning fire preparedness with a focus on communications.

Notifications. Be sure your phone number has been registered at the Rio Blanco Alert Notification System. If there is a fire emergency near your residence, you will receive a call, email, or text depending on your choices. You may include both your home and cell phone numbers.

Even if you have registered in the past, it is important to be sure your info is current and accurate. Please log in to verify that your registry is correct.

Register on Rio Blanco Alerts at This service will also notify you of high winds, blizzard alerts, and similar conditions. Any questions call 970-878-9600.

Report a house fire. If you have a fire at your house, call 911, provide the property address, and evacuate. Personal safety is always the top priority. Let the first responders do their job and stay out of the way. If possible, clear the driveway of your vehicles so they can get their equipment in place.

If it is a small fire, such as a kitchen stove, use your fire extinguisher. Even if you feel you have controlled the situation, it is still a good to ask the fire department to follow up and inspect.

Be sure you have a properly working fire extinguisher in your home and also in your farm buildings, recreational vehicles, and similar. Check on the functionality of your extinguishers frequently. Schedule an inspection and replace as needed.

By the way, our fire department provides training to our kids and the opportunity for 5th graders to learn how to use and put out a small fire with a fire extinguisher. Heck! I may ask to attend too now that I realized I’ve never used a fire extinguisher.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can also help protect you. These should be installed on every level and near sleeping areas so you hear an alert around the clock.

Please evacuate when alerted and don’t create another issue for our firefighters. Some people refuse to leave because they can’t see fire near them. If the smoke increases or the ground gets hot or conditions change quickly, you can be in danger. Others resist until the last minute then firefighters have to rescue people instead of fighting the fire.

It doesn’t help rescue crews if you are a “looky loo” getting in the way. Do not rush to an active fire or clog the roads and cause problems for incoming responders and departing evacuees.

Report a wildfire. Call 911. Do your best to specify the exact location. It helps responders to know the approximate size of the fire such as one plume of smoke or bigger than a football field. Also report the color of the smoke, white, gray, or black.

If you spot an agricultural burn out of control, it is better to report than not. Landowners should notify the Sherriff’s office of planned ditch or field burns at 878-9620 in advance. This allows the fire department to check with the owner before responders rush off to a planned burn.

Please let the dispatchers do their job instead of calling the Fire Department directly. They can immediately coordinate a variety of resources and stay in contact with all responders.

As we have learned, smoky air from fires not even near us can be a huge breathing problem. Stay inside or depart to a cleaner air location if you need to. Be alert for adverse breathing conditions and contact your physician for assistance if needed.

Meeker Fire Rescue Chief Luke Pelloni anticipates a busy season. While much of our local land stays somewhat protected with snow during the winter, as soon as it melts and temperatures rise, everything is more vulnerable starting now.

Upcoming in this series are suggestions for property mitigation. Grateful thanks to all the local experts who contributed to this story.

By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times

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