Garfield County Lands Nation's First Aerial Firefighting Research Center

Mar 19, 2015

Colorado has announced the location for a 'first of its kind' aerial firefighting research facility.

The Rifle-Garfield County Airport will be home to the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.  

"So virtually everything we do in wildland firefighting will be subject to be looked at by this center of excellence," Paul Cooke, the director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, says. 

He says the center will test and evaluate existing and new technologies used in aerial firefighting. 

Seven communities across the state, including Montrose County and Colorado Springs, expressed interest in housing the facility.  

"One of the reasons that the Rifle-Garfield County application rose to the top was just the level of regional support for it," Cooke says.

He says the chosen site is near high-risk wildfire areas, uncontrolled airspace and other firefighting and aerial resources.