HID West prescribed fire in Everglades

prescribed fire Everglades National Park

Photo by Aerin Land, NPS

Everglades National Park Fire Management personnel conducted the HID West prescribed fire on January 23. The objectives were to consume dead and decaying vegetation, to release nutrients that promote new growth, and improve habitat.

prescribed fire Everglades National Park

Photo by Cory Dutton, NPS

prescribed fire Everglades National Park

Photo by Aerin Land, NPS

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Report on Upper Lyons Prescribed Fire Entrapment and Fire Shelter Deployment

Fire shelter deployment site

Fire shelter deployment site. Photo from the FLA.

The Wildland fire Lessons Learned Center has published a facilitated learning analysis for an entrapment and fire shelter deployment that occurred on the Upper Lyons prescribed fire last October in Redwood National Park in northern California.

Below is the one-page summary of  the 27-page document, which can be read in full HERE (1.3MB).

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“Number and type of injuries

One individual with second degree burns to the left hand and first degree burns to the right hand and face.

Narrative Summary

On October 13, 2014, firefighters were conducting a prescribed fire in the Bald Hills Area of Redwood National Park.

Crews were burning off of a handline when a combination of factors aligned to cause several spot fires in heavy fuels outside the unit. These spot fires burned together to form multiple slopovers.

A decision was made to suspend ignition until an assessment of the slopovers could be completed. At approximately that same time, a firefighter who was hiking up the fireline became entrapped due to intense heat and dense smoke. As a result, this firefighter deployed their fire shelter on the handline.

The firefighter was quickly located and escorted a short distance out of the smoke and heat. The firefighter, immediately assessed by an onsite paramedic, was able to walk—with some assistance by others—to an area where a vehicle was waiting to transport them to a landing zone.

The firefighter, accompanied by a flight nurse, was airlifted to Shasta Regional Hospital for treatment. The firefighter was released a short time later and referred to the University of California Davis Burn Center for follow-up the next day.

The diagnosis from the specialist at the burn center was second degree burns to the left hand and first degree burns to the right hand and face. Over the next several weeks, the firefighter received follow-up treatment at the burn center.

Significant Note

During the Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) process, the firefighter continued to emphasize the profound role that previous fire shelter training played in the successful deployment of the firefighter’s shelter during this event.”

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Video explores the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park

Firefighter and a Giant Sequoia

Firefighter and a fire-scarred Giant Sequoia. Still image from the NPS video.

We are pleased to see that some federal agencies, especially the National Park Service, are producing professional-quality films that interpret for the general public the science of wildland fire. We have written previously about successful video projects produced by Everglades National Park, and now Yosemite National Park has released their second film about the science of the 2013 Rim Fire that burned 254,685 acres in and near the Park. Their first one featured Fire Ecologist Gus Smith, and a second with the inspired title of “Rim Fire” was uploaded today on YouTube. It is embedded below and emphasizes the importance of reintroducing fire into the forest while treating your eyes to excellent photography.

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Wildland fire management in the Everglades

everglades sign

Everglades National Park, at the southern tip of Florida, has been using prescribed fire since 1958 to reintroduce and maintain fire as a part of an ecosystem that has been altered by humans. They have been doing it so long that they apparently feel comfortable having park visitors bicycle or take a tram along a road that is used as a fireline on an active prescribed fire.

Northwest River of Grass prescribed fire

A tram full of park visitors cruises past the Northwest River of Grass prescribed fire in December, 2014. Screen shot from the video below.

In 2014 Everglades prescribed burned about five times as many acres as were blackened in wildfires — 23,162 compared to 4,641 acres. Only about four percent of the acres burned in unplanned fires last year were on fires that were completely suppressed. The rest were managed, or not entirely put out and allowed to accomplish resource management objectives.

Everglades prescribed fire

Fire Information Officer Katherine Corrigan standing in a an area that burned in a prescribed fire nine months previously, in April, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Like other units in the National Park System, Everglades is experiencing a “workforce realignment”. That’s National Park Service-speak for a major budget reduction. They are still figuring out the details, but it appears that the fire management staff will  be “realigned” from about 35 to around 25 employees. Right now they have two staffed engines, fuels personnel, a fire ecologist, a helitack crew, and two fire effects monitors.  
Jack Weer

Jack Weer, Assistant Fire Management Officer, Everglades National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Jack Weer, the assistant Fire Management Officer, said most of their wildfires occur in the months of January through May, but said they can have fires any month of the year. 
The park’s two engines, a Type 3 and a Type 6, hold 500 and 313 gallons, respectively. The also have two all terrain vehicles and four utility terrain vehicles. The Type 6 engine is on a Ford 550 chassis.
Everglades fire engines Chris Corrigan

Engine Captain Chris Corrigan and two of Everglade’s engines. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The park also has a very active aviation program, using helicopters extensively, occasionally several in one day. For decades they have used an exclusive use contracted helicopter plus call when needed aircraft, but in April, 2014 acquired their own ship, a Bell Long Ranger. For now they are using pilots under contract, but are considering, AFMO Weer said, hiring their own pilot. We have more information at FireAviation.com regarding the helicopter program.

In 2012 we told you about an excellent film that the park commissioned, titled The River of Fire. It was produced, directed, and edited by Jennifer Brown who at the time was an NPS Interpretation Division employee whose term appointment was about to end. Ms. Brown, now with Into Nature Films, has produced another great film about a 28,000-acre prescribed fire the park conducted in December, 2014. Check it out below:

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Prescribed fires in Wind Cave continue

Cold Brook prescribed fire

The National Park Service burns Unit #3 of the Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park, October 25, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The National Park Service fire staff at the Northern Great Plains Area has been busy this week in South Dakota. On Monday and Tuesday, along with other federal and state cooperators, they executed the 1,938-acre Norbeck Section 2 prescribed fire. On Friday they accomplished about 200 acres in Jewel Cave National Monument, and on Thursday and Saturday burned two units for 1,199 acres in the Cold Brook project in Wind Cave National Park. They still want to burn a third 1,000-acre unit in the Cold Brook area, but are waiting for a specific smoke dispersion condition near an urban interface area.

The weather this week has been close to ideal for burning in the Black Hills, obviously. The high temperatures have been in the low 70’s, the winds moderate and mostly consistent, and the relative humidity has been in the 20’s.

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