The Roswell Fire Department, who had been assisting with structure fires in Ruidoso, have been demobilized from the Little Bear fire.
“We no longer have crews at the Little Bear fire,” said Roswell Fire Chief Chad Hamill.
The problem, according to Hamill, is the regulatory rating required for fighting forest fires. “The federal government sent us home. I don’t agree with it, but there you have it,” he said.
It was the State Forestry Division who called the RFD into the area after the Little Bear fire broke containment on Friday. “We were asked to come up there and help at 3 o’clock Saturday morning. We have a mutual aid agreement with the surrounding counties,” Hamill said.
City Manager Larry Fry also noted that mutual aid agreement between towns and counties. Last year RFD sent men to Lovington under this agreement. However, Fry said that the fire stations have maintained full staff of personnel throughout.
He said that RFD’s primary participation in the Little Bear fire was to protect the lives and property. “We are good at saving exposures. Our priorities are life safety, house and house exposures.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines exposure or exposure protection as a defensive tactic to limit fires to the property of origin. The main objective is to prevent large loss in the community.
Hamill spent Sunday in Ruidoso. “We were not there to fight forest fires. The State Forestry Division and BLM are the experts on that. We want to save the village of Ruidoso, the village of Capitan and the village of Alto.”
The RFD has received an outpouring of gratitude from Ruidoso residents who credit them with saving their homes. “We keep getting phone calls from all sorts of people saying thanks. I believe we saved over 100 structures, and if they call upon us again we’ll go back” Hamill said.