The Colorado Springs Fire Department is an “all-risk” unit, meaning it responds to ice rescues, lost hikers and injured rock climbers all year round. The department has numerous special tools to help it accomplish these feats, including a small fleet of off-road motorcycles.
The program started in 2001, after the Colorado Springs Police Department scaled back its park police program. Firefighters use the bikes to respond to emergency calls in remote regions when fire trucks are too bulky for the job.
The department’s motorcycle program runs out of Station 5, near Garden of the Gods, and Station 13, near Cheyenne Canyon. Both are mere minutes from the city’s most popular hiking destinations.
If the department needs to spot fires or locate injured hikers, trained riders use the bikes to navigate rocky ravines and steep, gravelly trails. During a search, responders can cover about 3 miles an hour on foot, but they can cover 10-12 using the motorcycles.
Applicants usually undergo months of training before they are allowed to join the program. On any given day, the department usually has eight riders available to operate four motorcycles.
Motorcycles make finding an injured victim easier, but riders can only carry limited supplies on the bike. The rest of the crew usually follows behind on foot with ropes, technical rescue gear and additional supplies.
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[Did You Know: In 2013, during peak hiking season, 12 rescues specifically called for the Colorado Springs Fire Department motorcycle unit.]
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