Marshall fire report recommends improved communication in advance of the next crisis

Police, fire, 911 operators and other emergency responders need to improve communication across the board to better respond to another large scale wildfire, an after-action report prepared in the wake of the Marshall fire found.

The report listed dozens of recommendations for Boulder County’s 911 center, the Louisville police and fire departments, the county’s emergency operations center and the incident management team — an outside group called to help with large fires. Those recommendations included finding a way to manage overcrowded cell phone towers, faster ways to notify residents of evacuations and change the local siren system so they can be activated in a wildfire.

The report acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the Dec. 30 wildfire that killed two people, destroyed more than 1,100 homes and burned more than 6,000 acres and said that first responders performed well considering how fast the fire moved through Superior, Louisville and parts of unincorporated Boulder County. Aside for strong winds and dry brush and grass, the fire struck during the Christmas holiday break and amid an ongoing global pandemic.

“The evacuation of 37,500 people during a fast moving and multi-directional spreading fire in a relatively short period of time (3-4 hours) is unprecedented,” the report said.

Boulder County officials did not announce the results of the report but the Town of Superior posted it on its website earlier this month, and 9News first reported it.

The report reviewed each agency’s response to the fire and lists what each can do to improve its response to large, fast-moving wildfires. In some cases, improvement plans already are in the works or have been finalized.

Read the report here:

Wildfire map

Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.

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