Firefighters, government plan for disasters

When emergency-response officials worry about disasters, wildfires and weather-related phenomena, including flooding, top the list.

That was one of the things to come out of a four-hour work session involving 20 representatives of local and federal government, emergency services and private enterprise.

Needed to guard against these disasters are public education about natural hazards, expansion of early-warning systems and private-sector involvement.

A natural-hazard mitigation plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency would allow participating entities to apply for FEMA grants.

FEMA offers grants for predisaster mitigation planning, flood-reduction projects and repetitive-loss claims.

The workshop was organized by the La Plata County Office of Emergency Management and Los Pinos, Upper Pine and Fort Lewis Mesa fire protection districts and Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.

Jennifer Orozco and David Cooper of URS Corp. of Denver coordinated the workshop.

They said mitigation planning builds local partnerships, creates disaster-resilient communities and communicates local priorities to state and federal agencies.

Issues discussed Wednesday will be refined as a draft mitigation plan for another workshop June 27.

A draft plan is expected by August, with final approval by November.

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