Firefighters in Suffolk County in New York say the lack of maintenance of fire lanes in forested areas hampers their ability to access wildfires. Their brush trucks are designed to crash through wooded areas but dead trees, logs, and high stumps at times prevent them from getting to a fire, or can cause them to become stuck on a stump.
Below is an excerpt from Riverhead Local:
Angry firefighters: policymakers ‘have no clue’ about dangers of battling wildfires in Flanders pine barrens
The two men driving the brush trucks that got stuck on dead trees in the Flanders brush fire Saturday are angry about the conditions on publicly-owned preserved lands in Flanders. But they’re even angrier about the statements made by government officials responsible for those conditions in the days following the small wildfire that burned 10 acres of woodlands.
On Monday morning, County Executive Steve Bellone called a press conference in Hauppauge to announce the establishment of a permanent brush truck training course on 25 vacant acres of county land in Yaphank.
“We need to…make sure that our fire personnel, as they go in to do their work, have what they need and have the training that they need to combat those wildfires,” Bellone said.
“Training is not the issue,” an incredulous and angry Flanders Fire Chief Joseph Petit said in an interview Monday evening. “The condition of the land is the issue.”
Fire lanes are so overgrown that they’re impassable (see video below) and thousands of dead oak trees — both standing and fallen — have created conditions in the forest so hazardous and so difficult to navigate that a disaster is inevitable unless immediate action is taken, Pettit said…
The video was published on 13 Apr 2015. It was shot during a wildfire in Flanders Fire District Saturday, April 11, 2015, showing the condition of county-owned preserved pine barrens, where fire lanes are obstructed by fallen dead oak trees. One brush truck got stuck on a fallen tree (broke a tie rod) and had to be towed from the scene. Location: Flanders, Suffolk County, New York.