(UPDATE at 9 p.m. MDT, May 15, 2015: After “Phil” left a comment below saying “Director Cooke selected Ms.[Melissa] Lineberger as the Center’s Director on Wednesday”, we checked with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control to confirm, and it is true. She is a licensed attorney who joined the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control in 2013 as a policy analyst before taking her interim position last August.)
(Originally published at 2:11 p.m. MDT, May 15, 2015:)
This week in Rifle, Colorado there was a ribbon cutting for the ceremonial opening of Colorado’s Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting. Later this summer the Center will be working out of a facility at the Garfield County Rifle Airport.
Radio station KRCC conducted an interview with the interim Director, Melissa Lineberger. Below is an excerpt:
AHM: Exactly what will your duties be?
LINEBERGER: As the director, I’ll be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the center, ensuring that we are meeting our goals as far as completing projects on time, communicating with the legislature to ensure that they understand what we’re doing, and then also being involved as a spokesperson to the Colorado firefighting community, make sure that they understand when we have a new tactic, technique or procedure, understand how that can be implemented and how that can help them, and then provide whatever training is necessary. [Are] demonstrations the best way to go? Or is it sitting down in a classroom and having them see the process that we went through to get to a solution? I’ll be in charge of overseeing all that and making sure the staff is as excited as I am for this opportunity and is moving forward in the right direction.
AHM: What projects are you looking at right now?
LINEBERGER: Some of the initial projects that I’ve already started doing research on [are] night operations. Right now we’re not doing bucket drops from the air at night on fires because 30-40 years ago there were some high profile helicopter crashes when they were trying to fly at night. But night-vision goggle technology has come a long way. People have been scared to re-implement [night-time aerial bucket drops] because of the safety issue. So what we want to do is look into the safety, talk to the folks who are doing night flying currently with the National Guard and with some other organizations, and try to figure our how we can get night operations on our fires here in Colorado. There’s a lot of benefits to fighting fire at night, the smoke lays down, and there’s just opportunities for us to attack those fires 24 hours a day from the air.
According to the Post Independent, ”
… the state Division of Fire Prevention and Control expect to complete a job description for the director soon, followed by a “rigorous” selection process that could take two or three months. After that, they can began hiring the remaining eight full-time staff members, who will occupy an existing building that is being vacated by Garfield County.