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SMERT Founding History

The first SMERT brush truck

Our community is nestled in the foothills just east of Rocky Mountain National Park. A 3,500 foot elevation gain makes this relatively small community geographically extreme. What is considerably unique about our community is that it was platted before the county insisted upon more than one access road. Part of our community lies within a rural fire protection district and part does not--with only one way in and one way out. The access road is extremely difficult to drive safely, especially with large emergency vehicles.

It is one of a growing number of communities in the West that are classified as wildland urban interface. WUI is the zone where structures meet and intermingle with wildland or vegetative fuels. WUI is the zone that poses tremendous risks to life, property and infrastructure and is one of the most dangerous and complicated situations firefighters face.

In June of 2000 our small community was engulfed by the Bobcat Gulch wildfire. It was the first of many mega-fires Colorado experienced in the year 2000. Many in our community suffered devastating losses to their homes and property and over 10,000 acres of beautiful Roosevelt National Forest stand dead, or are now ground fuels.

Through our experience with the Bobcat wildfire, we began to understand what it meant to be neighbors and how neighbors helping neighbors could make a difference. A few families began meeting to plan ways to make our mountain community safer, to perpetuate and build upon the deep sense of community that arose from the ashes of the Bobcat fire. As a result of these meetings, the Storm Mountain Emergency Response Team (SMERT) was formed.

We started by struggling through the government paperwork to obtain 501(c)3 status as a community non-profit organization. When we learned of a brush truck soon to be retired from active service with Loveland Rural Fire Department, SMERT decided to purchase it with donations collected from the community. Every year since, we have received enough in community donations to pay for the truck insurance. Our community is fortunate to have two residents who are full-time paramedics. With their help, SMERT was able to obtain an old rescue vehicle which was then stocked with emergency equipment and medical supplies against a weather event which prevents transport.

Since SMERT began, we have organized and sponsored participation in the Larimer County Firewise program, helping residents remove thousands of BTU's of fuel from around their homes, creating defensible space and making the community safer. Several members have completed the S130/190 Basic Wildland Fire Fighting class developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Our telephone tree has been used, like reverse 911, to advise residents of impending critical matters. SMERT has established communication procedures and a team of folks ready to direct emergency services personnel to their destinations without getting lost on the narrow, twisty roads. We publish a community newsletter that helps keep fire safety matters alive in the minds of our residents, provide Welcome packets for new residents which include necessary information about safety precautions, offer a "fuel reduction" program wherein a property owner can receive fire mitigation help in exchange for a donation, have buried 275 gallon water tanks in several locations for use as back up water supply and constructed several mobile water wagons to bring water to locations as needed.

SMERT Organization Chart

Mailing Address

PO Box 73
Drake, CO 80515

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