Safety meeting topic: taking calculated risks

Firefighters — at your next safety meeting, here is a topic worthy of discussion: taking calculated risks on a fire.

On October 2, 1943 on the Cleveland National Forest east of San Diego 11 people fighting the fire, mostly Marines, were killed on the Hauser Creek Fire.

Below, is the second paragraph from the Recommendations section of the official report on the fatalities. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Hauser Creek Fire

What  do you think about taking “calculated risks”?

Resources:

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tim.

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Property owners sue over wildfires in Washington and California

Two lawsuits are being threatened over separate wildfires in Washington and California.

Poinsettia Fire

About two dozen landowners are suing a golf course over last summer’s Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad, California. The lawsuit that was filed in San Diego Superior Court blames Omni La Costa Resort & Spa LLC for the May 14 wildfire that destroyed five homes, 18 apartment units, one commercial building, and 600 acres on May 14 in Carlsbad, California.

As we wrote on October 19, a fire investigator has determined that a golf club striking a rock is one of the possible causes for the fire which started near a cart path on the 7th hole on the resort’s golf course.

Carlton Complex of fires

In central Washington 65 landowners filed tort claims Friday against the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over the management of the Carlton Complex of fires.

Below are excerpts from an article at King5:

…”We represent mom and pops, cattle ranchers, apple farmers, (and) business owners,” said Brewster attorney Alex Thomason, who filed the legal paperwork in Olympia.

Even before the smoke from the fires had cleared this summer, complaints from landowners started to echo through the Okanogan region.

“They sat over there in the field and watched and took pictures,” Kim Maltias told KING 5 on July 28.

Thomason says some of his clients believe that DNR allowed the fires to grow bigger so that they would receive more state funding.

“The DNR firefighters call this ‘God money.’ It’s an unlimited amount of resources, so they get access to that money by letting the fire get bigger and bigger,” said Thomason.

The tort claims accuse DNR of negligence for failing to protect the properties from the wildfires.

“In the very beginning, DNR stood by and did nothing. They let this fire grow and grow and grow,” said Thomason.

Thomason says some of his clients believe that DNR allowed the fires to grow bigger so that they would receive more state funding.

“The DNR firefighters call this ‘God money.’ It’s an unlimited amount of resources, so they get access to that money by letting the fire get bigger and bigger,” said Thomason.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Carl.

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USFS seeks applicants for 69 Forest AFMO jobs

The U.S. Forest Service has a vacancy announcement that lists 69 Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer positions they are trying to fill. I’ve never heard of such a large scale announcement for dozens of relatively high-level fire positions. As far as I can tell, they are all GS 11/12 jobs in the Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series, 0301.

An excerpt:

This position is established on a Forest Service unit. The incumbent serves as a Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer (FFMO) responsible for providing leadership and program direction for the unit’s fire and aviation management program. The incumbent is responsible for coordinating the development of short and long-range fire management programs, fire management activities on the unit.

Below is a screen shot of a portion of the announcement.

forest afmo job announcement

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Inversion traps smoke over prescribed fire

Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park

Smoke is trapped by an inversion in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. NPS helitack photo.

In this photo taken Wednesday, smoke is attempting to break through an inversion over the Mosquito prescribed fire in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park in California.

Normally, as you rise in altitude, the temperature decreases due to the changes in air pressure. In a weather (or temperature) inversion, instead of getting cooler at higher temperatures, it is actually warmer higher up.

weather inversion

Cool air trapped under a warmer layer, creating an inversion. From Fortair.org.

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Time lapse of Norbeck prescribed fire

This time lapse video shot by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division shows the final portion of the ignition of the Norbeck Section 2 prescribed fire, as the lines were tied in at the south end of the project on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. The GoPro camera placed on the Rankin Ridge Fire Lookout Tower in Wind Cave National Park was set to record an image every 30 seconds.

The camera is looking west at the intersection of Highway 87 and Rankin Ridge Road (391). Google Maps.

The project was a multiagency effort with state, federal, and local firefighter participation on state, federal, and private land.

More information about the Norbeck Section 2 prescribed fire.

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South Dakota: Cold Brook prescribed fire

Alpine Hotshots

Members of the Alpine Hotshots walk to their assignment as the Cold Brook prescribed fire began. (Click on the photos to see larger versions.)

Today the National Park Service began igniting the 2,199-acre Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The project is in a wildland urban interface area with several private residences within a quarter mile of the site. The expectation was that Unit #1 would be burned today, October 23, and additional burning in Units #2 and/or #3 would occur on Friday. (See the map below.)

The goals are to reduce fuel loading in the ponderosa pine forest, decrease encroachment of young ponderosa pine into the prairie, and to decrease the wildfire threat for the nearby residences.

The project is adjacent to US Highway 385, which could be occasionally closed.

Cold Brook prescribed fire weather

Dan Swanson and Mike Prowatzke (L to R) use a chart to convert the wet and dry bulb temperatures to a relative humidity reading on the Cold Brook prescribed fire. It turned out to be 27 percent as this photo was taken at 11 a.m. on October 12, 2014.

Eric Allen, the Fire Management Officer for the NPS' Northern Great Plains Area, conducts the briefing (as the Burn Boss) before the Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park. NPS photo.

Eric Allen, the Fire Management Officer for the NPS’ Northern Great Plains Area, conducts the briefing (as the Burn Boss) for the Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park. NPS photo.

Cold Brook prescribed fire

Hunter “Snooki” Smith of the Alpine Hot Shots pauses while lighting the Cold Brook prescribed fire.

Alpine Hot Shots

I inevitably took several photos of Hunter “Snooki” Smith (above) of the Alpine Hotshots because I was on a road and he was lighting adjacent to the road. One of his fellow crew members gave him a hard time about being in so many pictures, and as this photo was taken he was explaining that, Hey, I’m just here and he is taking my picture. I then told the other crew members (jokingly) that Mr. Smith gave me a dollar to take his picture, which produced some laughter among the crew.

thermal infrared image

This is a thermal infrared image of three members of the Alpine Hotshots standing in front of some burning grass on the edge of the prescribed fire. I will write more about the thermal imagery in another article.

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