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This past year, fire season in southwest Colorado was long and hot.
In Pagosa Springs, the Little Sand Fire burned for more than two months and burned nearly 25,000 acres until it was declared contained by the Forest Service. The estimated cost of that fire alone was over $7 million.
Ginger Domingos, contracting officer for the San Juan National Forest, was in charge of contracting services for firefighters this past fire season — not just for the Pagosa Ranger District, but for all of the San Juan Forest.
“Basically, last summer we had the Little Sand and several other fires going. I think eight in total,” Domingos said. She was in charge of procurement for all eight fires. “Every time we had fire, we had a need for resources that we didn’t have identified yet,” Domingos said.
In an attempt to be better prepared for next fire season, complete with a list of interested vendors, the Forest Service is holding a Procurement Fair on Tuesday, Jan. 8, hoping to preestablish contacts and vendors.
The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center are looking for area small businesses interested in providing equipment, supplies and/or services to support wildland firefighting efforts.
“Our biggest deficit last year was equipment,” Domingos said, adding, “We had so many fires that resources were exhausted.”
When in need of a truck, Domingos said she found herself asking the question, “What twenty year-old do I know with a truck that’s insured that needs some extra cash?”
But it wasn’t only equipment that the firefighters needed during the fires. There was food, ice, blankets, and “anything you can think of that would be needed for firefighting crews during a fire,” Dominos said.
“I’ve been in procurement for over 30 years, and the past three years I’ve worked with the Forest Service, but this was my first fire season and I had no idea of the types of things needed,” Dominos said.
Services and equipment needed to support firefighting include meals, copiers, heavy equipment, refrigerated trailers, ice, hardware, showers, toilets, hand-washing stations and lodging.
“Right now, we don’t know who the vendors are,” Domingos said.
At the Procurement Fair, small businesses and vendors can learn how the procurement process works with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. According to Domingos, there will also be a representative from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“We’ll show the mechanics of how it works. Like when there are guys on the line that get a flat tire, how do we decide who we go to?” Domingos said. Questions such as this will be answered at the fair.
Domingos said the small business industry can help find the fastest and cheapest ways to procure what will be needed during a fire.
In addition to explaining how the Forest Service and other government agencies acquire the items needed during a fire, representatives will talk about what process business owners will need to complete in order to be certified to run equipment or be registered to run as a vendor.
Domingos also said that members of the hot shots crew will give a talk on the types of food that are most beneficial to them when fighting a fire.
“This is a win-win situation,” Domingos said.
Owners of small businesses currently doing business or wanting to do business with the Forest Service are invited to attend the free workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, in Durango.
Topics to be covered include updates on regulations, contracts, the ordering and payment process, and types of services needed to support crews.
For more information, contact Domingos by calling (970) 385-1245, or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.