These FAQs have been developed for agency human resources staff, supervisors, and state employees to answer common questions regarding the State’s Wildfire Safety Guidance. The guidance was developed in consultation with a taskforce of safety and air quality experts from multiple state agencies and academic institutions. The guidance and this FAQ serves as a safety resource for state employees working in the field around worsening smoke and fire conditions during wildfire season.
Q: Are employees required to follow any of the recommendations in the Wildfire Safety Guidance?
A: No. The recommendations in the guidance are best practice recommendations for agencies, supervisors, and employees to follow when working under wildfire smoke conditions.
Q: Will the SORM Safety Unit write a respiratory protection plan for our agency?
A: No. SORM’s Employee Safety Services (ESS) Unit can provide basic training in fire response, evacuation, particulate monitor reading, rescue, and respirator use. ESS is also available to consult on and train in the development of agency-specific protocols.
Q: How often will SORM and the Wildfire Taskforce update the Wildfire Safety Guidance?
A: SORM will continue to consult with individual members of the Wildfire Safety Taskforce and update the guidance as needed to reflect best practice as wildfire safety science continues to evolve in response to worsening wildfire conditions.
Q: Why doesn’t the guidance include in-depth information on indoor air quality and HVAC systems if HVAC systems are integral to safety controls in wildfire conditions?
A: The Wildfire Safety Taskforce discussed the need for including in-depth information on HVAC systems recommendations under the guidance. While SORM recognizes that HVAC systems are an integral part of respiratory protection for state employees, our intent was to offer a brief, accessible overview of wildfire safety considerations particularly for employees working in close proximity to wildfires. Training will touch on, but not go in-depth on various complex HVAC filtration systems. Resources for recognizing and evaluating the respiratory benefits of various HVAC filtration systems are also linked in the guidance.
Q: Why are you focused on wildfire safety when other types of fires can be much more dangerous?
A: SORM recognizes that other types of fires, particularly chemical fires, can pose greater danger to life, health, and safety than wildfires. Wildfires have only recently become a high risk consideration and wildfire smoke, in particular, poses hazards that in previous years have been atypical for outdoor work. State agencies and employees may therefore be less aware of the hazards that wildfires present and the precautions they should take to avoid respiratory and other types of injuries.
State employees should reach out to DPA_Safety@state.co.us with any questions regarding wildfire safety that are not answered above.