Training for a wildfire in Lancashire, UK and Omaha, Nebraska

The video shows firefighters in Lancashire, UK engaged in wildfire training, using some equipment that you will not often see on the other side of the pond.

Here is how the video is described:

Firefighters along with partner agencies Bay Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue teams (Bolton and Bowland), Pennine helicopters, United Utilities, the Moorlad Association and Lancashire County Council all joined together in an excercise on Bleasdle Fell, Lancashire to not only practice the skills required to tackle a wildfire but also raise awareness of the issues with the public through local media. This report was taken from Granada Television News, featuring Station Manager Shaun Walton, Jeremy Duckworth from the Moond Association and reported by Amy Welch.

And speaking of training, the photo below illustrates in a completely different environment annual firefighter refresher training in the National Park Service’s Midwest Regional Office in Omaha, Nebraska.

Firefighter refresher training, NPS regional office, Omaha

Firefighter refresher training, NPS regional office, Omaha, NE. Photo by Jim McMahill.


Red Flag Warnings, March 12, 2014

NWS Warning - March 12, 2014

I like the way the National Weather Service is putting together graphics that illustrate their warnings — for example, the one above for California. They can get a person’s attention more effectively than simple text.

Red Flag Warnings for elevated wildfire danger have been issued by the National Weather Service for some areas in California, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.

Red Flag Warning - March 12, 2014

The Red Flag Warning map was current as of 10:01 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. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.


Behind the scenes — the protests of an air tanker contract

Neptune's Tanker 41 at Missoula

Neptune’s Tanker 41. a BAe-146, at Missoula, August 11, 2013. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Today, March 11, the Government Accountability Office will hold a hearing at their office in Washington, DC to consider the protests filed by three air tanker companies over the propriety of the U.S. Forest Service’s non-competitive contract award to Neptune Aviation for next-generation large airtankers. After reviewing dozens of documents that revealed what was going on behind the scenes, Fire Aviation has the story of how the sole source contract developed, and the arguments from the other vendors about why that contract should be terminated.


Arizona firefighter dies while taking pack test

On Saturday, March 8, 61-year old  volunteer firefighter Bobby Mollere of the Hellsgate Fire Department in Star Valley, Arizona collapsed and died while taking the pack test version of the Work Capacity Test, which requires a person to carry a 45-pound pack for three miles in less than 45 minutes. The cause of death was listed as “stress/overexertion” and heart attack.

Below is the official notice from the U.S. Fire Administration:

While performing a Wildland Pack Test, Lieutenant Mollere collapsed on the Payson High School track. Fellow firefighters on scene initiated a medical assessment and found Mollere in cardiac arrest. The EMTs and Paramedics began advanced life support immediately on scene. Lieutenant Mollere was transported to the Payson Regional Medical Center where resuscitative efforts continued until he passed away. Incident Location: Payson High School track, AZ (U.S. National Grid: 12S VC 6952 8857)

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Mollere’s family, friends, and fellow firefighters.

Previously we have written about other fatalities and serious injuries that occurred while taking the Pack Test. Federal land management agencies and some other organizations require that their on-the-ground firefighters pass the test once a year in order to be qualified to fight wildland fires.

Laguna Hot Shots taking Pack Test

File photo of the Laguna Hot Shots, based at Descanso, California, taking the Pack Test while wearing weighted vests. Photo by Laguna Hotshots.


Coal mine fire under control in Victoria

Helicopter drop on Hazlewood coal fire. CFA photo.

The fire at the Hazelwood open cut coal mine that we told you about on March 5 is now under control after firefighters battled it for 29 days. It is not out, but they hope to obtain that status by this weekend if the predicted rain occurs.

It is believed the fire started when two bush fires burned close to the mine and spotted into the coal. The suspected cause of at least one of the fires is arson.

Helicopters have been used to drop water on the fire, while ground forces use sprinklers and master streams from fire engines. They have been using Class A foam from the beginning, but when experiments with compressed air foam were successful, they began using those systems from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and a Tasmanian crew on the northern batters to smother the fire with thick foam and help reduce the amount of smoke affecting Morwell.

CFA personnel have also been using an airborne heat-detecting infrared line scanner to fly over the fire to produce a map showing firefighters where the heat still remains and where they should concentrate their efforts. Infrared mapping systems are frequently used on vegetation fires in Australia and the United States.

All of the photos are from the CFA.

Hazlewood coal fire infrared image. CFA image.

Helicopter drop on Hazlewood coal fire. CFA photo.


Brush fire burns 125 acres near Pine Valley, CA

Map of Gun Fire, March 10, 2014

Map showing approximate location of heat detected by a satellite from the Gun Fire, March 10, 2014 (click to see a larger version)

A brush fire east of San Diego near the intersection of Interstate 8 and the Sunrise Highway has burned 125 acres. Named the Gun Fire since it started near a gun club, it was reported Saturday afternoon east of Pine Valley in an area that had not burned for about 40 years.

As of Sunday evening, it was being called 60 percent contained and had 185 personnel assigned, with 250 planned to be working on it Monday. They expect full containment by March 13.