29 July 2022

Colorado is burning

Written by: Jacob Riegle

Hello from Grand Junction, Colorado!

My name is Jacob Riegle, and I am a Fire Dispatcher for the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit. I’m here as a part of the MANO Project as a Resource Assistant for the White River National Forest. Even though I’m at a desk for eleven hours a day, there isn’t anything else I’d trade for what I get to do at work.

My workplace is the Grand Junction Air Center, a combination of an interagency dispatch center, air tanker base and a smokejumper base. Through the work at the dispatch center, myself and several other dispatchers help to suppress wildfires in central and western Colorado. The center covers two field offices of the Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado National Monument, two national   forests, and supports suppression activities in local, state and county jurisdictions.

I study Emergency Administration Management at Arkansas Tech University. I’ve always been interested in the fire service as a profession, and I have always focused my studies on fire service topics. I watched as wildfires in the western United States torched hundreds of thousands of acres of land and knew that’s where I wanted to help.

My job is to find out all the details of a fire in support of the many firefighters in the field risking their lives. Whenever someone calls 911 about a wildfire, it’s my job to take the information gathered by our partners in the county dispatch centers and determine several factors. The work we do at the dispatch center is nowhere near as visible as the fire engines and firefighters you see in the media, but it’s worth every second of it. I write reports, keep track of the fire engines I'm responsible for, map fires and ensure the brave men and women working to contain fires have everything they need.

I’m working on several certifications through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, and my time spend working here in Grand Junction has given me an introduction to the world of fire management and response. I’m looking forward to learning more about this field, experiencing more opportunities, and helping keep Colorado’s land safe.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Rocky Mountain Regional Office

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