New York firefighters want fire lanes maintained

Manorville fire engine

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.


Red Flag Warnings, April 15, 2015

Red Flag Warnings April 15, 2015

Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches have been issued for areas in North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

The map was current as of 7:45 a.m. MDT on Wednesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts and maps. For the most current data visit this NWS site or this NWS site.


Former Carson employees responsible for fatal Iron 44 Fire helicopter crash were motivated by greed, prosecutors say

Carson helicopter
Nine firefighters and pilots were killed in the 2008 crash of a Carson Helicopters S-61N in northern California. Two former employees of the company have pleaded guilty to charges related to the crash of the overloaded helicopters that impacted the ground while attempting to take off from a remote helispot.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Mail Tribune that provides details about the sentencing of the two former Carson employees.

The vice president of a defunct Grants Pass helicopter company was motivated by “pure greed” to lie about the carrying capacities of the firms’ helicopters, including an overloaded one that crashed at a Northern California fire in 2008, killing nine people, prosecutors say.

A government sentencing memorandum says Steven Metheny not only falsified documents for Carson Helicopters to gain Forest Service contracts worth up to $51.7 million, he also supplied a similarly falsified helicopter to the Forest Service as a replacement for the one that crashed Aug. 5, 2008, on the Iron 44 fire.

Seven of the nine killed were Southern Oregon firefighters in what was the deadliest crash of its kind in U.S. wildfire-fighting history. The memorandum, which details how Metheny tried to scuttle the investigation into the crash and stole from his own company, sets out the government’s argument for Metheny to be sentenced to more than 15 1/2 years in prison for his guilty plea in the case.

“His fraudulent conduct was the result of pure greed that eventually placed the lives of numerous pilots and firefighters in extreme danger,” according to the memorandum written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron Chatfield…

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


Montana legislature votes 96 to 3 to honor smokejumpers

On April 13, 2015 Montana’s House of Representatives voted on House Resolution #2that stated in part:

…WHEREAS, in July 2015 on the University of Montana campus, the National Smokejumper Association will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first parachute jump to a forest fire, which occurred in July 1940.


That the House of Representatives of the State of Montana recognizes 75 years of excellence and dedicated service of smokejumpers in Montana and across the nation.

As far as we can tell, the Resolution did not involve spending any taxpayer money. It simply recognizes 75 years of service by smokejumpers.

The vote was:

  • 96 in favor of the resolution, and
  • 3 against it.

The Representatives, elected by Montana citizens, who voted not to honor smokejumpers were:

  1. Tom Burnett (Bozeman)
  2. Rob Cook (Conrad)
  3. Daniel Zolnikov (Billings)

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