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Governor signs Executive Order to pay volunteer firefighters, first responders

Ryan Bishop / U.S. Air National Guard

GOLDEN, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed an Executive Order that will direct all state agencies and departments to provide up to five days of additional paid leave for volunteer firefighters and first responders who are deployed to wildfires in the state.

The governor's order states that "[f]ire season has become a year-round occurrence. As such, we need to maximize all of the State’s resources to combat wildfires to protect lives, homes, and properties. Volunteer firefighters and first responders provide critical support to suppress forest and grassland fires and assist people during fire emergencies. As many as 70% of Colorado’s firefighters are volunteers.”

The Executive order is designed to support volunteer first responders to be able to continue to serve Colorado during times of emergency and to be ready when they receive the call without worrying about financial responsibilities.

“This Executive Order will greatly benefit our Fire and EMS agencies in rural Colorado due to the lack of volunteers, and allowing us to have a couple more available for emergencies could be a difference in life and death for the patient as well as our staff and volunteers," said Kiowa County Fire Protection District Chief Russ Watson. "Out here on the Eastern Plains, we rely on any resources we can get and having the extra manpower will allow for more resources with equipment and personnel."

Last week, Governor Polis announced that the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program will provide funding to support wildfire mitigation efforts across the state.

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