The Waldo Canyon fire began June 23 and took a turn for the worse on June 26. Photo courtesy of the City of Colorado Springs.
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., destroyed at least 346 homes and damaged about 39 more. Tom Monarco, fleet manager for the City, talks to GF about fleet operations’ support services for fire and emergency vehicles.
As fleet manager, Monarco has been leading the charge in making sure vehicles are ready for use and stay in usable condition during the fires. The Waldo Canyon fire began June 23 and took a turn for the worse June 26. Monarco reported that two mobile fuel trucks, carrying both gasoline and diesel, had been running 24 hours a day from June 23 to July 2. The trucks provided 7,500 gallons of fuel for 46 different agencies, with an estimated fuel cost of more than $32,000. One truck was parked at a staging location at a fire station, while the other moved around to different locations based on fueling needs.
“The biggest problem we had was making sure we could get to where the firefighters and the police needed,” Monarco said.
The vehicles came back for refueling about twice each day. The City operates more than 40 pumper trucks and numerous other support vehicles.
The trucks are also fueling fire and support vehicles from assisting agencies, such as neighboring cities, the federal government, and the wildlife service. Fleet management will keep track of these transactions for reimbursement.
In addition to parts and mobile fuel operation employees, mobile service truck employees were also working overtime hours. Monarco has been putting employees normally assigned to parts into the fuel trucks.
Nearly 350 homes were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire. Photo courtesy of the City of Colorado Springs
Three of the fleet’s seven mobile service trucks are out in the field, each with one technician.
Monarco reported no damage to equipment so far. Fleet operations is also supporting Colorado Springs Utilities, one of its customer departments, as it gets staff into areas that need gas and electricity turned back on.
Living in an area with a high risk for fires, Monarco said the City had emergency plans in place.
“We’ve been planning for this for a long time, and it hit. It’s always been a big issue with fires in Colorado, and it’s been so dry the last two years,” Monarco said.
The fleet’s current concern is accurate record-keeping and reimbursement. It needs to ensure accurate record-keeping for reimbursements, including fuel, labor, overtime, and anything else associated with the fire.
However, any equipment that breaks down later is the City’s problem.
Monarco said in the past, after snowstorms, vehicles used in severe conditions that showed no signs of damage immediately afterwards would break down a couple of weeks or months later. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which handles reimbursements for emergencies, does not usually cover the cost of these after-disaster breakdowns, Monarco said.
As for the City, Monarco said flooding is a key concern. With rain on Tuesday and rain predicted for this weekend, the City’s concern is that debris from the fire will clog up drainage systems.
“The issue is that the debris is mostly in people’s yards. It’s private property, so we can’t get in there. We can [only] deal with the debris in the street,” Monarco said.
Monarco said six fleet employees lived in evacuation areas, but their homes were not damaged by the fire. The fire was 70% contained as of the morning of July 3, and as of the morning of July 5, it was 90% contained, according to Monarco.
The City of Colorado Springs fleet was named the No. 10 fleet in the nation of the 100 Best Fleets.
By Thi Dao