Veteran and aspiring fire managers from the Rocky mountain west are in Grand Junction for a week long class to hone their skills. Fighting fire has changed over the years and requires the ability to size up situations and determine what kind of resources are required to fight the wildfire, or even to fight it at all.
For many at the class the 40 hours of classroom work is a continuation of experience gathered at last year's Wildland Fire Academy in Montrose. One fire managers says, "In terms of wildland firefighting we know that fire is a part of the ecosystem itself, and so we have to be careful with that ecosystem. Some ecosystems do well with fire and some do not. In some cases we do more damage putting the fire out than the fires to the ecosystem itself." Fighting wildfire requires knowledge of more than just fire.
A good manager also has the ability to encourage people to do their best while emphasizing safety. Many of the wildland firefighting management techniques used today are an outgrowth of safety problems discovered after the 1994 Storm King fire near Glenwood Springs in which 14 firefighters perished.