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Federal Law Rules Over Military Resources For Wildfires

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4)- Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his annual wildfire briefing with state and federal officials at Centennial Airport Thursday. It was also the time to ask questions about whether the protocol for wildfire resources had changed.

Hickenlooper was joined by representatives of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Last year at the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs the question was raised about what took so long for military C-130 tankers to be deployed.

The issue was raised once again last month in a fire review.

"We are setting ourselves up for failure by having a string of bureaucracy that requires we bring in a light aircraft when we know it doesn't have the capacity to have an impact on what we are doing," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

The procedure dates back to a Depression Era law. The 1932 Economy Act requires the use of private contractors before military resources can be called.

4 On Your Side Investigator Rick Sallinger asked the governor about it during the wildfire briefing.

"We need to be able to deploy it, not tomorrow, not next week and we can't wait for you to get back to us. The real problem I think they were complaining about last year was how it took for the decision to get made," said Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper said what is needed is a better system of communication.

"The assets that we had for the Waldo Canyon Fire we felt were appropriate given the strategy that we could put in place and given the situation at hand," said U.S. Forest Service Deputy Regional Forester Brian Ferebee.

State lawmakers passed legislation at the state Capitol to create a state air tanker fleet but so far has failed to fund the project.

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