Staff News

Wildfire season - What to know

June 19, 2012 | This year’s active wildfire season has seen a number of steps taken by the county and state to reduce the risk of wildfire, including a statewide ban on open fires. At NCAR and UCAR, security, safety, and facilities staff have also stepped up vigilance, particularly at the Mesa Lab.

“Given the dry conditions and the wildfires we have seen in Colorado this season, we thought this would be a good time to remind everyone about our wildfire safety plan for the Mesa Lab,” says Milenda Powers, Health Environment and Safety Services manager.

In the event of a wildfire, the safety procedure developed with guidance from the Boulder Fire Department is to shelter in the Mesa Lab until Boulder Fire officials deem it safe for staff and visitors to evacuate.

“Employees and visitors would be alerted to a wildfire emergency through the building’s public address system and asked to stay in the building," Milenda says. “Facilities staff would shut down the buildings’ ventilation systems in order to keep smoke out of the building.” The security hotline (ext. 1100) and email to staff would provide updates.

Forest worker trims high branch with hand lopper
A forester trims lower branches from one of the many ponderosa pines that dot the landscape surrounding NCAR's Mesa Lab. For more on our wildfire mitigation efforts, see www.ucar.edu/forest. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

The Mesa Lab has been the focus of wildfire mitigation work since last fall. Matt McMullen, director of Facilities Management and Sustainability, says the goal of the mitigation project has been to lower the risk of a catastrophic wildfire by reducing available "fuel" in the forest. A forestry contractor has been thinning and removing dead and diseased trees. The project will continue through mid-August.