Lessons From the Waldo Canyon Fire

In the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon Fire, The Independence Center (The IC) held a forum for officials from the City of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and The Red Cross to discuss what the fire was like for people with disabilities. The forum provided a public avenue for those with a disability who were affected by the fire to speak up. Their comments centered around three areas:

  • Barriers to effective communication for emergency broadcasts
  • Barriers to transportation and mobility
  • Access barriers in the shelters

There was also an overwhelming theme in the need for individual planning for an emergency. Nearly everyone who spoke mentioned that either they did not know what they were supposed to do or did not have a plan in place.

The forum was the first step in trying to bring about a more comprehensive and inclusive emergency plan. Over the last year, The IC has continued to work with city, county, local media and emergency officials, initiating contact, hosting meetings, and sharing information.

The Black Forest Fire revealed how far we have come. The city, county, local media and emergency officials made great strides in their efforts and response to emergency information and communication for people with disabilities.  The Waldo Canyon Fire forum revealed that many individuals with disabilities did not know what do during the fire, or did not have a plan in place for an emergency situation. Many communication 

Download our Lessons from the Fires booklet here to see what we’ve learned, what we’ve accomplished and what is next. Barriers existed and were among the most problematic concerns. Due to the work of The IC and their community partners, strong efforts have been started to ensure the issues that arose during the Waldo Canyon fire for those with disabilities did not occur again.

View the Summary of Findings – Waldo Canyon Fire Forum for People with Disabilities

View Lessons from the Fires PDF  | Word

News stories related to The IC’s work in emergency preparedness and the Waldo Canyon fire

WALDO CANYON FIRE: Disabled cry foul over evacuations
From The Gazette (August 12, 2012) Link | PDF

WALDO CANYON FIRE: Waldo was Harder for the Disabled
From The Gazette (August 17, 2012) Link | PDF

WALDO CANYON FIRE: County opts out of forum on disabilities
From The Gazette (August 17, 2012) Link | PDF

WALDO CANYON FIRE: Disabled people faced unique issues during fire
From The Gazette (August 31, 2012) Link | PDF

Want to learn how you can get involved in making a difference in your community?

Contact our Emergency Preparedness program at 719-471-8181 or through our contact form