In light of recent grass fires and extremely dry conditions, the Colorado Springs Fire Department is clarifying its policy on recreational fires, including fires in homeless camps.
In 2016, Colorado Springs firefighters responded to 186 homeless camp fires. In 2017, that number rose to 275. They have already responded to 14 in 2018.
“One bad action can really lead to disastrous results,” Colorado Springs Fire Chief Ted Collas said.
Collas said there’s been a drastic increase in fires that are related to people experiencing homelessness in our area.
“We also know that the population of people in homelessness in Colorado Springs has gone up as well,” Collas said.
Collas said the dry conditions and rise in fires are concerning.
“It’s very odd to be at this point – almost mid-January – and to have the very little amount of snowfall that we’ve had this year,” he said.
Collas said the rising number of fires puts a strain on the fire department’s resources.
“But that’s what we’re here to do,” he said. “We are sworn to make sure that our community stays safe, and our firefighters are committed to doing that.”
“We’re not going to leave anything burning in Colorado Springs that puts our community at risk,” he said.
Collas said building relationships with the people experiencing homelessness in our area can help prevent these fires.
“We don’t want every interaction that we have with these folks to be adversarial in nature, so we try to build relationships, and understand their predicament,” Collas said. “Then we use that relationship to help them understand what the fire code requires and what the law requires, so that they are understanding that when we show up, we are going to put those fires out.”