If you live in St. Louis or Lake counties in Minnesota, you could be eligible to submit an application for grant assistance to install or upgrade a wildfire sprinkler system. According to the Timberjay newspaper:
“Both counties will be seeking federal funding through FEMA to help pay the cost of installing sprinkler systems for homeowners, especially for those in areas identified as at high risk for wildfire.”
Should the federal government be buying sprinklers to be installed on private land?
“BOISE, Idaho — Wildfires scorched an area four times the size of Yellowstone National Park and destroyed more than 5,200 buildings in 2007, one of the nation’s worst fire seasons despite a record amount of retardant dropped by aircraft.
The Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center reported nearly 14,000 square miles burned and the federal government spent more than $1.8 billion fighting wildfires, making it the second costliest season on record.
Even though fire managers used 22.4 million gallons of fire retardant – nearly triple the 10-year average – the area burned in 2007 trails only 2006 when fire consumed 15,500 square miles.
The number of buildings burned in 2007 ranks second since current counting methods began in 1999, trailing the 5,700 buildings destroyed in 2003, the fire center reported.”
The emphasis in the story on the use of retardant is interesting. This will only reinforce the impression in the public that air tankers are the answer to keeping fires small, while the truth is, large wind-driven fires are not suppressed by air tankers.
Wildland firefighters, of course, have to be physically fit. One of the largest causes of fatalities on wildland fires is heart attacks. In fact, between 1990 and 2006, 22.5% of the wildland fire fatalities were caused by heart attacks, according to an August, 2007 report by Dick Mangan for the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. It can be argued that many of these fatalities could be prevented by regular medical exams, fitness tests, and a physical fitness program. Within the wildland fire community there is no organized system or interagency program for fitness of firefighters.
Do we need an interagency program to:
Provide guidelines about how to achieve and maintain physical fitness year round?
As the new year begins, so does Wildfire Today. I hope, with this web site, to bring to light some of the current issues, news, and hot interesting topics in the world of wildland fire. Events and issues affecting wildland firefighters around the world will be written about in these pages. If you have news that you think would be of interest to other firefighters, send me an email, or put it in a comment at the end of a post.