Durango City Councilors unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday that establishes a framework for local governments and fire districts to manage and share the cost of wildfires.
“We’ll all be able to fight fire, assess fire and dedicate the right resources to it without any delay,” Durango Fire Chief Dan Noonan said.
The agreement has been in place since 2013, and it includes La Plata County, Durango Fire Protection Department, Upper Pine River, Los Pinos and Fort Lewis Mesa fire districts.
The city was not included in the agreement in previous years because negotiations had not been completed, said City Attorney Dirk Nelson.
The council agreed to budget $40,000 this year for wildfires that might burn on city property.
This is about one-third of the $125,000 the county has dedicated to wildfires. The city agreed to this figure because the population of the city is about one-third of the population of the county, Nelson said.
If the city’s expenses exceed $40,000, the agreement would be renegotiated, Nelson said.
Possible city expenses could include necessities for firefighters such as food, toilets and showering units, according to the agreement.
The financial and operational support from both the city and county will help local fire departments manage the fire on the local level longer, Noonan said.
The city would also help with public communication if a fire occurred within city limits.
The councilors lauded Noonan, Nelson and the city manager for setting up the legal framework for fire management that allows for cooperation.
“It truly is one community regardless of those jurisdictional boundaries,” said Mayor Pro Tem Christina Rinderle.