FORT COLLINS , Colo. - As the Picnic Rock fire ate its way up the foothills northwest of Fort Collins drawing local fire fighting resources away from their normal operations, Platte River's Emergency Response Team based at the Rawhide Energy Station remained on alert responding to one medical emergency on I-25 and one brush fire on private property near the power plant. This "neighbor-helping-neighbor" teamwork works due to mutual aid agreements between the agencies.
"Our mutual aid agreements are becoming more valuable as we all train together more often, each getting to know the other's strengths," said Dick Minor, Platte River's manager of health, safety and security.
Mutual aid agreements provide fire, medical and police agencies with additional resources like in the case of the Picnic Rock fire. Wellington Volunteer Fire Department members were working at Picnic Rock when the call about the fire on County Road 9 came in to the Fort Collins Dispatch Center. The Center then dispatched the Wellington VFD to the fire where Wellington VFD Chief Dean Delaney requested, through automatic aid, assistance from the Platte River ERT. Structures were threatened and none were lost.
"Nobody stands alone," added Minor. "The ERT exists to provide on-site response capability for medical emergencies, hazardous materials releases and situations needing extrication or rescue."
Platte River's ERT is made up of Platte River employees that are certified firefighters, including wildland firefighters and EMTs who have the training and equipment to get the job done.
"Platte River has had a fire fighting team in place since the early 1980s to protect employee lives and company property. It was only right to reach out and help our neighbors around the Rawhide Energy Station," said Brian Moeck, Platte River's general manager.
Ten different fire departments, including Wellington VFD, Poudre Fire Authority, Loveland Fire & Rescue, Longmont Fire Department and Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department, participate in Platte River's mutual aid plan whose stated purpose is to augment the limited capability of the ERT on large complex incidents and to provide adequate resources enabling relief of firefighters on extended operations. A total of 80 officers and firefighters visited the Rawhide Energy Station for familiarization training in 2003.