State Firefighters Support Local Sterling Station Services – Akron News-Reporter

It could be a busy summer for Fire Station 141.

With eastern Colorado firmly in the grip of a multi-year drought, summer temperatures set to hit record highs again, and days of high winds becoming more frequent, the four-man crew of the station 141, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, could be facing long days.

  • Crew Station 141 with their main asset, an International 8400 pump with a capacity of about 600 gallons. (Jeff Rice/Journal-Lawyer)

  • The map shows the four regions of the Northeast District (all shades...

    The map shows the four regions of the North Eastern District (all shades of green) and parts of neighboring districts.

The station, which opened in August 2020 on East Chestnut St., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., peak hours for wildfires in the High Plains. Captain Cody Ritter commands the crew, consisting of Chief Firefighter Brian Best and firefighters Trent Chartier and Griffin Cole.

The four Sterling-based crew all say they can’t imagine doing anything else. Ritter’s father, Lavon, is Sterling’s fire chief. Cody Ritter began his career as a volunteer with the Crook Fire Department, as did Trent Chartier. Chartier accompanied a team of firefighters in 2017 and decided that was what he wanted to do with his life.

Cole, whose father was also a firefighter and captain, got his start as a teenager in an auxiliary program with the Hanover Fire Department near Colorado Springs.

Best said he wanted to be a firefighter since he was a kid. He first entered service as a volunteer while attending the University of Chadron, Neb.

Although positioned primarily to help fight wildfires in the region, the station supports 50 local fire departments in the South Platte area of ​​the Northeast District. There are three other districts – North West, South West and South East – with a total of 14 regions among the four districts.

In practice, any in-state crew can be called up anywhere in Colorado where there is an urgent need, and can be called up as an additional resource for up to 21 days, with rest time, anywhere in the USA. In 2020 and 2021, Sterling’s crew is helping fight California wildfires.

They also respond to all danger calls under an agreement with the Sterling Fire Department and the Sterling Rural Fire Protection District. The city of Sterling shares the expense of the building and stores some of its emergency vehicles there, but the state funds all station operations.

However, the job is not just about fighting fires; it is also prevention and, as far as possible, preparation and education. The importance of this part of the DFPC’s mission was underscored recently when Director Mike Morgan, in his report to Gov. Jared Polis, said his agency and the state faced two major misconceptions.

The first is the state’s population’s inability to imagine the worst. As with many crises, the possibility of a wildfire occurring “where I live,” or in my city or county, isn’t just a lack of imagination, it’s a willingness to believe that forest fires happen “elsewhere” and “to another person”.

“Time and time again during catastrophic events, first responders and the media hear, ‘I just didn’t think this could happen to us,'” Morgan said.

The second is the general population’s lack of preparedness to be ready in the event of a forest fire.

“Whether it’s just personal procrastination or not bothering to be told what you’ll need, preparation can protect you,” Morgan said. “The time to pack a suitcase with essential family documents, medicine and keepsakes is not when you’re given 20 minutes to evacuate.”

For more information about the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and to see how you can prepare for a wildfire, go to the DFPC website. website.