BERNALILLO COUNTY, NEW MEXICO, FIREFIGHTERS ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE of recent refinements of modern technology to improve response capabilities in the desert. Anybody who has driven through the wild west knows that you can travel for miles on end on unimproved roads that go nowhere. Except to the occasional isolated homestead or makeshift dwelling.
Whenever the FD gets a call for a fire or medical emergency, it is common to struggle to find the location where the dirt roads have no names and the old trailer homes have no numbers. And traveling down the wrong road will lead to a dead-end while you can see the smoke rising from just a couple of miles away.
Now the county fire department is using their advanced GPS equipment to map out these outreaches and document the locations where people are living. Taking a one-time blitz attack on the project to map out the vast Pajarito Mesa, a team of 20 firefighters is spending an entire week mapping out the roadways and identifying the locations where living souls are to be found. Many, if not most of them, are the time-honored squatters who live their lives anonymously.
KRQE-TV Ch. 13 Albuquerque explains:
The concept of the project is simple; map every road, home and structure in the Pajarito Mesa, including land owners and squatters. Bernalillo County Firefighters have already mapped more than 200 miles of road in only four days. They said they don’t know how many more miles they will have to do.
In addition to the roads, they’ve also documented each home. Whether it’s a tent, a trailer or a house, each one will be placed on the map. “There’s a bunch of houses out here, homes I should say,” Firefighter William Walker said.
Bernalillo County Battalion Commander John Nash said too often homes burn to the ground while fire crews desperately try to find their location. He said once the mapping is done, response time will be reduced.
Here is their video report from the field on this unique challenge: