Colorado Springs Fire Department looks back at 2015

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- As 2015 comes to a close, the Colorado Springs Fire Department is looking back at what they have accomplished and they are setting goals for the new year.

The department graduated 17 new firefighters, developed safety programs and deepened relationships with the Colorado Springs Police Department and other safety organizations.

"We've had a great, great year, for our city and for our fire department," said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Chris Riley.

Riley said he's proud of what the department has accomplished, but added they couldn't have done it without the support of other public safety organizations, the community and their volunteers.

"We have literally hundreds of volunteers that do work that is tremendous. It equates to between $1 and 2 million dollars worth of expenditures if we were having to fill that with paid personnel."

In 2015 Riley said CSFD developed and enhanced several programs including their Community Response Team program launched in December of 2014.

"It is taking situations where people that really don't need emergent 911 services, but they do need help, we're able to intervene and we're able to get them to the right place."

Riley said in 2015 CSFD responded to more than 60,000 emergencies.

"Our response load is going up around five percent, 10 percent a year. So we have to get creative in finding out ways to be more efficient."

They also created a local hash-oil ordinance, and reached out to about 20,000 residents with public fire safety education. Yet, they still found time to exceed their wildfire mitigation goal by 20 percent.

"We mitigated over 1600 acres which included over 3,000 homes," said Riley. "And get this, they mitigated over 750,000 pounds of material.

Riley said being proactive helps reduce the work load of our first responders and frees them up for the true emergencies.

"Help us by helping yourself. Call us, it's free of charge. We go out and we'll assess a home and then we will mitigate it free of charge."

As a busy 2015 comes to an end, Riley said they are up for an even busier 2016 and no matter what is thrown at them they'll be ready for the challenge.

"It's been a team effort and I'm just really really proud to be a part of it," said Riley.

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