Victoria rolls out new fleet of fire engines

Yesterday we wrote about the rollout of Victoria’s new ground-based $82.1 million forest firefighting fleet. Now, above, thanks to Wol, we have a video about the new trucks. The slide-outs for a chain saw and spare tire are interesting.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the 306 new firefighting vehicles to be rolled out over a six-year period were specifically designed to provide greater protection to fire crews and would deliver increased water carrying capacity of 630 litres (166 gallons), up from 400 litres (105 gallons) previously.

The new vehicles, based on the Mercedes Benz G Wagon, are fitted with equipment designed for Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ (DEPI) firefighting and planned burning needs, including cabin fire curtains for improved crew safety and, the highest level of falling object protection for a vehicle of this size.

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Wildfire briefing, October 15, 2014

Half of the Holy Grail of Firefighter Safety demonstrated at the Happy Camp Fire

The Holy Grail of Firefighter Safety is to have key members of the Operations and Planning Sections knowing two things about a fire in real time:

  1. The location of the fire, and
  2. The location of firefighters.

Half of that was provided on the Happy Camp Fire, when true video and infrared video were streamed in real time down to the Incident Command Post from an Air Attack aircraft over the incident. At times the Planning Section Chief controlled the camera, looking at sections of the fire that were key to his situation awareness, mapping responsibilities, decision making and planning.

Below is an excerpt from an article at Fire Aviation.

A suite of video sensors normally used on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was installed on an Air Attack aircraft working on the 134,056-acre Happy Camp Fire in northern California. The instruments provide normal and infrared video, making it possible for the Air Tactical Group Supervisor and personnel at the Incident Command Post to see in real time through smoke to determine where the priorities should be and where aircraft should be assigned to drop water or retardant.

Read the rest here.

Cleanup after the Boles fire has started

The government has started a massive cleanup in the northern California town of Weed, following the Boles Fire that destroyed 157 residences and 8 commercial structures last month.

Victoria, Australia rolls out new fire trucks

The rollout of Victoria’s new ground-based $82.1 million forest firefighting fleet has begun for the upcoming fire season.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the 306 new firefighting vehicles to be rolled out over a six-year period were specifically designed to provide greater protection to fire crews and would deliver increased water carrying capacity of 630 litres (166 gallons), up from 400 litres (105 gallons) previously.

The new vehicles, based on the Mercedes Benz G Wagon, are fitted with equipment designed for Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ (DEPI) firefighting and planned burning needs, including cabin fire curtains for improved crew safety; and, the highest level of falling object protection for a vehicle of this size.

Attorney argue over evidence in Rim Fire arson case

The attorney representing the person charged with starting the 257,000-acre Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park is arguing that prosecutors aren’t providing all of the evidence they have collected against her client. The fire became the third largest in California recorded history, destroyed 11 homes, and cost $125 million to suppress. In August a Federal Grand Jury indicted 32-year-old Keith Matthew Emerald for starting the fire, charging him with two felonies, “Timber set afire” and “False statement to a government agency”, plus two misdemeanors, “Fire left unattended and unextinguished” and “Violating a fire restriction order”.

Read the story of how Mr. Emerald became a suspect.

Busy wildfire season in Canada’s national parks

From GuelphMercury.com:

The number of wildfires in Canada’s national parks was close to average last summer, but the size of some of those fires made it an unusually hot season.

“We’ve had a more active than normal wildfire season,” said Jeff Weir, Parks Canada’s national fire manager. “A small number of those fires have been quite challenging.”

The agency reported 85 wildfires in the spring and summer of this year. That’s slightly higher than the average of 82.

The amount of forest burned was almost 3,000 square kilometres — an area about half the size of Prince Edward Island.

“That’s higher than normal,” Weir said.

There were several large fires in Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles the boundary between northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Together with a large fire in Banff National Park, the fires accounted for 1,300 square kilometres of forest burned.

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Victoria to contract for two large air tankers from North America

tanker 131

Coulson’s air tanker 131, A C-130Q. Photo by Bill Gabbert, March 31, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

For the first time, two 3,000-gallon Type 1 air tankers will be put to regular use in Australia during their upcoming 2014/2015 summer bushfire season. Other than a brief trial of a DC-10 several years ago, Australia has not used large air tankers but instead has relied on single engine air tankers and helicopters for aerial support of firefighters on the ground. In 2010 they had the use of a 2,000-gallon Convair 580, a Type 2 air tanker.

(Read the rest of the story at Fire Aviation.)

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Engine rollover, Warm Springs, Oregon

Engine rollover, Warm Springs, Oregon, July 18, 2014.

*The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published a report on a BIA engine that rolled over near Warm Springs, Oregon, July 18, 2014. Two people were injured, one seriously. The LLC says more than 50 fire vehicles have rolled over in the last 10 years.

*A Colorado artist has created a work consisting of rectilinear pillars suspended from the ceiling, each measuring nine feet tall, meant to convey the idea of a wildfire.

*A man spotted running from the 50-acre Foothill Fire in Ventura, California was arrested on suspicion of setting the blaze.

*Fire officials in Washington state suspect an arsonist is responsible for igniting 23 fires in less than two weeks. Most of them have been vegetation fires.

*A firefighting vehicle in Australia has been outfitted with drop-down steel wheels so that it can follow a steam-powered train, putting out wildfires started by the steam engine.

*In other news from Australia, a Senator gave a speech, titled, Thank you For Smoking, praising nicotine fiends for their $8 billion a year contribution to the economy. He said he did the math: Last year smokers cost the health care system $320 million and another $150 million in bushfire control.

*Researchers have found that “recent (2001–2010) beetle outbreak severity was unrelated to most field measures of subsequent fire severity, which was instead driven primarily by extreme burning conditions (weather) and topography.” Unfortunately, to read the article, researched and published by government employees, it will cost you $10 for two days of access. If the researchers, Brian J. Harvey, Daniel C. Donato, and Monica G. Turner, are going to hide the results of their taxpayer-funded research behind a pay wall, what’s the point in hiring researchers? Support Open Access.

*Firefighters are on alert in the Philippines for wildfires that may start from an eruption of the Mayon volcano.

*Firefighters are on lessened alert in the Black Hills after the area received two to five inches of rain over the last few days.

*California has burned through its wildfire-fighting budget — $209 million — just as it faces what is historically the worst of the fire season.

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Unedited video of 2012 fire tornado in Australia

Firenado Australia- WILD vision from chris tangey on Vimeo.

In 2012 we posted a video of a fire tornado that was shot by Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television while he was scouting locations near Curtin Springs station in Australia. Mr. Tangey has produced another version of the video (above) after requests from many fire scientists and meteorologists worldwide who wanted an unedited version.

He explains:

As we approach 2 years since this extraordinary natural event was captured, here is the last version we will release online of the 40 minutes we recorded on September 11 2012. Unlike previous clips this is wild vision at actual speed, a totally unedited and uninterrupted 3 minute “chunk” of the event as it happened. Intended for Fire Scientists, Meteorologists and fire tornado “aficionados”, it allows a more continuous view of the physics behind local atmospheric conditions, and the actual behavior of the vortex of smoke and fire. Best viewed on a large screen with a home theater system, an important point is, regardless of the pictures, this is possibly the first ever time the awesome tornadic sound of a fire whirl has ever been professionally recorded in the wild.

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Recruiting volunteer firefighters — in Colorado and Australia

A fire near Craig, Colorado

A fire near Craig, Colorado in 2000. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Relying on unpaid volunteers to fight wildfires and structure fires is the only feasible way to provide fire protection services in some rural areas. Many of these departments are finding that as residents, especially the younger generation, move into cities, the departments are faced with declining numbers of firefighters.

Below are excerpts from two articles on the issue, from Colorado and South Australia.

From KUNC, Community Radio for Colorado:

Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface.
And they are significantly understaffed.

The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Agency standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force.

“Generally, all fire departments that have volunteers need more volunteers,” said Garry Briese, executive director of the fire chiefs association.

“It’s a struggle at times and you just do the best you can do, the best for the community.”

There are 198 all-volunteer departments in Colorado serving more than 450,000 residents, and an additional 137 agencies that are a combination of career and volunteer firefighters. These “hybrid” stations serve 2.2 million residents, and 33 of them have only one or two paid firefighters…

From South Australia’s Messenger:

The Country Fire Service is recording an increase in volunteers for the first time in years on the back of last year’s horror fire season.

Total CFS volunteer numbers have increased from 13,325 to 13,737 over the past six months. The 3 per cent increase bucks a steady downward trend in numbers from the 15,590 volunteers there were in 2004/05. Damaging fires in January and February this year at Eden Valley in the northern Mount Lofty Ranges and at Bangor in the Southern Flinders Ranges appear to have sparked people into action.

Volunteer numbers in CFS Region 4, where the Bangor fire was, are up 6.5 per cent from 1776 to 1891. Similarly, numbers in CFS Region 2, where the Eden Valley fire was, are up 5.8 per cent from 2630 to 2784.

South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission Volunteer Services Branch manager Toni Richardson said it was a great sign. “It’s the first time we can actually remember it increasing over an extended period, which is really good,” she said…

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