Mark Masters, the CEO of Chloeta Fire, sent us some photos taken of a live interview they did with CNN Wednesday regarding the effects that sequestration may have on wildland fire management. Mr. Masters is a former rappeller, Fire Management Officer, dispatcher, and National Interagency Fire Center employee now running the fire contracting company in Oklahoma.
The National Park Service has been consistently posting photos from prescribed fire activities at Chickasaw National Recreation Area over the last year. We have featured some of them here and here. The photo above is one of 18 that were posted Wednesday on their Facebook page, which were taken February 16-19 by Michelle Fidler and Dan Winings.
Google, the search engine giant, has donated 30 huge water storage tanks to fire departments and other government agencies in Oklahoma. The company has a data center in Oklahoma and uses large quantities of water for cooling, but they no longer had a use for these 10 by 30 foot tanks that weigh 15,000 pounds and hold about 20,000 gallons.
“We have fantastic public servants in Mayes County and all over the state,” Mike Wooten, Google data center operations manager, said in a prepared statement. “We hope these water storage tanks will help make their jobs easier in emergency situations and provide an ongoing benefit for many Oklahomans.”
In addition to being used by fire departments, three will go to Oklahoma State University’s Fire Service Training facility near Stillwater, which will use them to train state firefighters. Currently their water system does not have adequate pressure to provide the type of training needed.
If new, the tanks would have cost $1.6 million.
Some public agencies are considering converting the tanks into tornado shelters for government employees. They plan to install a door, then partially bury them and cover what remains above the ground with dirt.
A volunteer Muskogee County firefighter has admitted that he started seven grass fires last weekend. Dustin Davis, 25, a firefighter for Boynton Fire Department, told the fire chief that he set the fires so he could spend more time with his colleagues. Davis said he missed the camaraderie he’d once felt in the military. Muskogee County sheriff’s deputy Darrin Berry said the fires didn’t cause any injuries or damage.
The Oklahoman reported that fires were set in three rural areas around Boynton within hours of each other Sunday night. After the seventh fire, a man called 911 using Davis’ phone but identifying himself by a different name.
The fire chief, who suspected arson, listened to the 911 tape and recognized Davis’ voice. He then confronted Davis about it and got the confession. Berry said they suspected the fires had been set by someone familiar with firefighting, because the fires didn’t do any damage.
Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said the fire chief, Steve Allen, is a hero. “We’ve had these cases in the past with firefighters, but they’re hard to catch,” Pearson told a NewsOn6.com reporter. “We finally caught one.”
Pearson added that all the fires were set near resources — next to a lake, but not near baled hay or structures. Allen encouraged Davis to use a pager to report fires to fellow firefighters; he’d call the fires in and then show up for firefighting duty. Pearson said Davis was the first one to show up at every fire. Officials expect that he will be charged with seven counts of arson.