The United States Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture have renewed an international arrangement with Australia to continue a partnership that provides mutual assistance for wildland fire preparedness, suppression and post-fire recovery.
These agreements have existed for years but language was added during this revision to enhance prevention and presuppression activities. Here is how the National Wildfire Coordinating Group defines presuppression:
Activities in advance of fire occurrence to ensure effective suppression action. Includes planning the organization, recruiting and training, procuring equipment and supplies, maintaining fire equipment and fire control improvements, and negotiating cooperative and/or mutual aid agreements.
U.S. Embassy Canberra Chargé d’Affaires James Carouso and Emergency Management Australia Director-General Mark Crosweller signed the renewal of the Wildland Fire Management Arrangement January 23, 2017 in Australia. The arrangement builds on 15 years of close collaboration between firefighters, and allows for the sharing of personnel, research, and technology to boost the mutual wildland fire management capabilities.
Since the U.S. and Australia have opposite fire seasons, and because these countries use interchangeable methods and doctrine, a mutually beneficial mechanism was established in 2002 for quickly sharing trained personnel and critical resources.
Above: Charred Pitaya cactus in Big Bend National Park during the Powerline Fire, February 2, 2017. NPS photo.
A year ago the Powerline Fire burned 1,792-acres near the headquarters of Big Bend National Park in south Texas. Since then a tireless camera has been taking photos of a particular area. When they are put together in a time-lapse fashion the resurgence of the vegetation is enough to convince anyone to stop using the word “destroyed” when describing the effects of a wildfire.
I almost decided not to post the video below because unfortunately the resolution of the photos is very, very poor, but check it out for yourself.
The report is expected to be completed in about 60 days, after which it will be submitted the the NPS national office for review before it is released.
A former Type 1 Incident Commander will lead a team that will conduct a review of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire that started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on November 23, 2016. After growing to dozens of acres over five days the fire was pushed by very strong winds out of the park into Gatlinburg, Tennessee where it killed 14 people and destroyed 2,013 homes and 53 commercial structures. It eventually burned over 17,000 acres in and outside the park.
The purpose of the review is to identify the facts leading up to and during the Chimney Tops 2 fire within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as make recommendations on any planning, operational, or managerial issues which can be addressed locally, regionally, and/or nationally to reduce the chances of a similar incident in the future.
Joe Stutler, a former Type 1 Incident Commander and now a senior advisor for Deschutes County, Oregon, will lead the interagency team.
Other members include:
Fire Behavior Specialist: William Grauel, Bureau of Indian Affairs – National Fire Ecologist, Boise, ID
Municipal Fire Department Representative: Jimmy Isaacs, Boone Fire Department – Chief, Boone, NC
Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist: Shane Greer, U.S. Forest Service – Assistant Fire Director-Risk Management, Region 2, Golden, CO
NPS Fire Management Officer: Mike Lewelling, Rocky Mountain National Park – Fire Management Officer, Estes Park, CO
Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist/Writer/Editor: Miranda Stuart, NPS Branch of Wildland Fire – Fire Management Specialist, Crawfordville, FL
NPS Management Liaison: Tim Reid, National Park Service – Superintendent, Devils Tower National Monument, WY
The work of the review team is expected to take up 59 days according to information released by the National Park Service. After that, the team will submit their report to Bill Kaage, Division Chief of Fire and Aviation for the NPS, for review prior to it being made public.