August 27, 2020
By Craig Cable, Director of Ministry Safety and Strategic Partnerships, American Church Group of Colorado
The first page came in around 3:00 p.m., “Emergency Dispatch: Fire on Cameron Peak. All Reserves on Standby!” Within a few short hours, I was donning my fire suit, duty belt, and a ballistic vest, and was on my way up the mountain pass to help protect people and property as firefighters focused on battling the growing blaze.
Before I go much further into my story, it may be helpful to understand a few of the different hats that I wear.
In addition to serving as the Director of Ministry Safety and Strategic Partnerships for American Church Group of Colorado, I am also a Reserve Deputy for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office., I also volunteer several hundred hours serving my community as a Patrol Deputy, Threat Liaison Officer, Crisis Intervention Team member, and School Marshal. It is an absolute honor and privilege to serve alongside some of the bravest and most dedicated law enforcement professionals in the country. It just so happens that, occasionally, I am called to help fight fires at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.
Now that we’ve established why I’m helping to fight a fire, let’s get back to some of the lessons I learned after spending several days on the front line.
Lesson 1: Do not wait to mitigate
The most common conversation I’ve been having with homeowners who can’t return to their mountain homes is that they wished they had taken the time to trim trees and forest debris away from their residences. Yes, they know they live on the mountains. Yes, they know forest fires happen in the mountains. No, they didn’t think it would happen on their mountain.
Lesson 2: Bad people look for easy opportunities
This probably will not come as a surprise to you, but bad people may try to get into an evacuated area because they know no one will be home to stop them from looting the property. I have made a handful of traffic stops near the evacuated area that were very suspicious. One stop involved two people in a pickup truck who were out for a leisurely drive in the mountains. It just so happened to be at 2 a.m. In police work, we call that a “clue.”
Lesson 3: Everyone has a plan until the winds change
One thing you can count on in the mountains is wind. The challenge comes in determining which direction the wind will blow. Over the last several days, the wildfires in Colorado have swirled every direction on the compass. What’s remarkable about these wildland firefighters is that it doesn’t matter which direction the fire is going, they have back up plans to their back up plans in order to meet the fire at every turn. From dropping fire retardant slurry near structures to back burning smaller controlled fires to help rob the major fire of future fuel sources, these incredible men and women are prepared for every contingency.
Currently, Colorado is fighting five forest fires. Collectively, over 180,000 acres of Colorado is on fire. I ask that you keep me, my fellow deputies, officers, and our brave firefighters in your prayers as they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way, day-after-day, to keep people and property safe.
We at American Church Group of Colorado are honored to be your trusted risk management partners. Whether it’s helping you mitigate your risks, identifying your vulnerabilities, or helping you develop a sound risk management plan, we’re here to serve you every step of the way.
We’d love to talk through your ministry’s unique risks with you and how we might help you mitigate those risks. Call or email me for more information: 303-590-9657 x109 | CCable@AmericanChurchGroup.com.
© 2020 American Church Group of Colorado, LLC. All rights reserved.
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