By Michael Abeyta

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS 4)- On Friday, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control presented 2022’s wildfire preparedness plan to Gov. Jared Polis at the Centennial Airport.

Every year the state outlines how they plan to keep Coloradans safe from the dangers of wildfire.

“Of course, wildland fire has always been and always will be a part of Colorado’s natural ecosystem,” said Polis.

This past year, the Marshall Fire proved that most, if not all, Coloradans now live under the threat of wildfire.

“Half of our state lives in the wildland-urban interface. And that presents some serious challenges,” said Colorado Department of Safety Director Stan Hilkey.

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Exacerbating the problem, said Polis, is climate change which is making our state warmer and dryer.

“We used to have a fire season break and we could gather up and train and get ready for the next fire season. The is no break anymore,” said Hilkey.

That’s why this year’s plan is more aggressive in both fighting and preventing wildfire.

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“The country, especially the American West, really needs to up our game,” said Polis.

The state will set up a fire command center to coordinate its battles across the state and is allocating more resources to firefighting.

“We’re going to get an extra $15 million to add to the state’s aviation resources that we already have,” said Hilkey.

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They are adding two additional fire service helicopters and a second large air tracker to their firefighting fleet.

They are also investing in a Fire Hawk helicopter; a Black Hawk helicopter converted into a firefighting machine that can fly high and fast to dump water on fires.

Despite all of these changes, they say one thing remains the same: fire prevention is the best way to protect Coloradans and they need all residents and visitors to be responsible.

“Most of our wildland fires and fires in the State of Colorado have human involvement of some kind. We need people to take responsibility for that,” said Hilkey.

Michael Abeyta