Prescribed fire to be on Dirty Jobs (updated)

UPDATED 10-26-2010 (scroll down)

Jon Wallace and Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs
Jon Wallace of the USF&WS poses with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. Prescribed fire smoke is in the background. Photo: Dragon Fire Ignition Products

Prescribed fire in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge will be featured in the Tuesday, October 26 episode of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe traveled to the Everglades to battle invasive species using machetes, poisons, and prescribed fire.

Mike Rowe Dirty Jobs
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. Photo: USF&WS

The trailer for the episode on the Discovery Channel emphasizes girdling and poisoning invasive melaleuca trees, but we know that Mike Rowe also got involved in a prescribed fire. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters used a “Green Dragon” device for ignition, which fires a new generation of ignition spheres sold by SEI Industries called Dragon Eggs, smaller than earlier versions of the spheres. We wrote about this new device back in March.

We’ll have to wait and see how much of the prescribed fire footage ends up in the Dirty Jobs episode. Check your local listings for what time Tuesday night it will be shown.

More information about the filming is on the USF&WS site.

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UPDATED 10-26-2010 @ 9:05 p.m. MT

Did anyone see the program? It looked like everyone had a good time filming the prescribed fire portion (there was lots of laughter throughout) UNTIL a person identified in the program as “Jim” “Gerry” accidentally discharged a FireQuick flare launcher within a crowd of people on an air boat. Here is a photo I took off a television at the moment of discharge; you can see the flame coming out of the launcher. Gerry is in the curiously red shirt.

flare launcher accidental firing

It is not obvious in the photo, but “Gerry” and the 4-5 others were in an air boat at the time. It appears that the flare launcher was loaded with a large “Stubby” flare which looked like it landed in the boat. Talk about a NEAR MISS! As far as we know, there were no injuries, however the woman closest to the launcher said “Ow” as she held her left ear.

In September of 2009 Wildfire Today wrote about another incident with a flare launcher that resulted in an injury. That post also has photos of the flare launcher and the flares.

UPDATE November 1 @ 10:00 a.m.

A video of this 10-minute segment is HERE. According the description of the video on YouTube, “Gerry” is “Gerry Barnes of the National Interagency Fire Center”. The telephone directory for NIFC lists a “Gerald Barnes” who is a Fuels Program Analyst for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

10 thoughts on “Prescribed fire to be on Dirty Jobs (updated)”

  1. Killing melaleuca trees with fire is about as productive as killing salt cedar trees with fire.

    Grown originally to dry up Florida swamps, it quickly spread as melaleuca hammocks and has taken over the Everglades as an invasive species.

    This has to be one of the better jobs, Mike Rowe has tackled.

    1. In this case they kill the melaleuca by girdling them and then applying poison. After the trees die, they burn the area. It appears to be very, very labor intensive, wading through the swamp carrying machetes and a bottle of poison.

  2. This presentation was a disaster!
    Not only did the program reveal that the attitudes regarding safety suck big time on the Loxahatchee, these bozos seemed to forget that it’s Mike Rowe who is supposed to be the entertainer. RX Fire Specialist is the PD under which these FWS employees are supposed to operate. Quite the embarrasment to all of us who do this as a profession. Do us all a favor and stay in the swamps of Florida, from what I saw-you folks need to be surrounded by lots of water when you use fire. Pretty sad.

  3. I agree with Mike, as a wildland firefighter of 11 yrs, and having extensive background in RX burns; this program was a horrible interpretation of those of us that do this as a profession. So embarrassed. Obviously a bunch of yahoos that didn’t know what they were doing.

  4. Oof. I had such high hopes for the show, and like many of the other viewers who are professional wildland fire managers, I was really disappointed and embarrassed. I know those folks know how to burn and burn effectively (I don’t know any of them personally, but I know others who work down there), but safety was non-existent (gloves? hard hars?). I just cringed when the guy discharged the FireQuick flare. Yikes.

  5. Hard hard and gloves weren’t worn because a JHA identified a risk of them becoming loose and sucked into the airboat propellers. The accidental pistol shot was a blank.

    1. Blank or no, that guy was pointing the pistol into a boatload of people. there is no excuse for such a cavallier attitude when handling a potentially dangerous tool.

      1. Right, Matt. At various times that pistol, handled by two gov’t employees (not Mike Rowe), was pointed at PEOPLE, which is something that should NEVER occur. And it does not matter if the weapon is thought to be loaded or not. A firearm should always be treated as if it were loaded. This video is a good example of WHY.

  6. There was definately some creative editing on this Dirty Jobs as I suspect there is on most. The Loxahatchee folks are some of the very best.

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