Windy conditions force Colorado Springs-area wildland fire team to train with toys

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Friday's windy weather made it too dangerous for the Catamount Wildland Fire Team to do a real-life exercise, so the firefighters got a little creative--training with sand tables, matchbox cars, and figurines. 

The white line is the perimeter of the scene, the green lines are the roads, the blue line is the water, and the cones are the fire. Everyone has a job.

"It counts as real training, because today's exercise is not just to contain a fire, but it's more to build on leadership principles," fire chief Michael Myers said. 

The sandbox gave the firefighters an overview of what they'd be training on if they were outside. 

"At any given moment, that can actually happen," volunteer firefighter Jeffrey Neal said. "And you really have to be ready for it."

But the conditions just weren't right for a real-life fire exercise.

"I wish I could say I could train on live fire every day, all the time, because that's really, truly, where you get your best benefit," Myers said. "But I am a steward of this community, and putting fire on the ground right now is not a good idea."

In 2017, the Catamount Wildland Fire Team responded to 22 fire incidents. This year, they've already responded to 16. 

"I've been on just about seven or eight fires just in the last month or so, and every one of them has been different," Neal said. 

"We want to train now so that we can be proficient for the community when the actual incident happens," Myers said. 

"That's why exercises like these are important, even if they're just inside in a garage," Neal said. 

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