In its Final After Action Report, Colorado Springs city government notes numerous successes associated with its response to the Waldo Canyon Fire, and also hits on some weaknesses that have already been addressed.
Among the latter is the report's finding that the city's Emergency Operations Center was "outdated and slow." In an emergency, EOC personnel collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property; and disseminate those decisions to agencies and individuals.
On Monday, the city announced that the EOC has since been rebuilt and re-equipped at a cost of $322,944. The state pitched in $100,000 for that.
In addition, the city has been involved in a vigorous training program that involves up to 95 people per month from the city and other agencies who are preparing for various emergencies, including floods and fires.
As for things the city didn't necessarily need to improve, the AAR points out the following strengths from last summer (among others):
• Distribution of radios among mutual aid agencies and law enforcement led to interoperability.
• Opening of shelters for people and pets generally went well, and community partners responded to the needs.
• City staff were reassigned from their normal jobs to the EOC and proved invaluable.
• Volunteers played key roles in various arenas, from logistics distribution to pet care.
• No major injuries were sustained by first responders and support personnel.
• The city received mutual aid support from dozens of agencies, including more than 40 fire departments.
• While 347 homes were lost and two people died, aggressive firefighting efforts prevented 82 percent of homes in the northeast sector from burning.
• Regular news conferences and the use of Twitter provided immediate information to the public.
The city spent millions of dollars on the fire. So far, it's sought $1.4 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for non-suppression activities, and $1.3 million from FEMA for fire-fighting costs. (The city hasn't yet received those funds.) Those figures don't include non-reimbursable expenses, such as regular salaries and vehicle maintenance, which total roughly $787,000.
Laura Neumann, chief of staff for Mayor Steve Bach, said during an April 3 news conference that she didn't know how much it would cost to implement all changes to address what the AAR identifies as deficiencies.