Wildfire news, September 22, 2009

High-expansion foam in Germany

Frank Averdiek who runs the German wildland fire site @fire sent us some information about the use of high-expansion foam in Germany. HERE is a link to a .pdf document that is in German, but has enough cool photos of the use of foam to be interesting to us single-language Americans.


Four fire trucks become stuck in mud in Texas

Four fire trucks that were working a vegetation fire near Merit, Texas became stuck in mud on Sunday. And two vehicles that were attempting to rescue them also became stuck. Seven inches of rain in the area recently has turned some unpaved roads into fire truck traps.


It reminds me of the time….

…back in 1973 when a dozer I was supervising on the Sitton Peak fuel break project on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California became stuck in mud while “walking” back from the project on a dirt road. Four trucks that came to rescue the dozer also got stuck in the same area. Here are some photos I took of the incident that was FUBAR.

I was driving a pickup truck accompanying the dozer as it was walking out. I managed to drive the truck through the mud without getting stuck, and drove back to El Cariso station with the dozer operator and reported to my boss, Ron Campbell, superintendent of the El Cariso Hot Shots, shown in the photo above. It was late in the afternoon and he said we’d go out tomorrow and get it out.

At 2:30 a.m. the next morning I received a phone call from Ron saying he could not sleep, worrying about the dozer, thinking that it might be vandalized, left alone in a remote area of the National Forest. So we rounded up a couple of other U.S. Forest Service employees, shovels, chains, and other implements of destruction and drove out to the site in the dark.

One by one, the trucks carrying the rescuers got stuck in the same general area, a boggy spot on the dirt road fed by a spring uphill from the road. More rescuers came to help and more of them got stuck.

It took us most of the day, but we eventually got the dozer and the trucks out.


Back in the saddle again

For the last six days I enjoyed a motorcycle trip to the twisty back roads of southwest Wisconsin. While I was away, Kelly Andersson did a great job filling in for me by posting some excellent articles and photos. Kelly maintains the Fire Pirates web site which is devoted to aerial firefighting. Be sure and check out the story there about push-starting a Blackhawk helicopter.

Thanks again, Kelly!


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5 thoughts on “Wildfire news, September 22, 2009”

  1. GREAT story Bill. Reminds me of the one I heard about an elephant pulling stuck vehicles from the mud in Florida.

  2. reminds me of a story I heard from some of my colleagues here in Florida getting 5 of our tractor-plows stuck on a fire (mostly all trying to get 1 out). They all got back out, except for one, which they needed to have an excavator walk in and drag it out. Sometimes you can walk through an area once, but anything more and you break through

  3. We had one of those dozers, Bill. In fact, I went to my first fire with the "Old Beast", 20 years ago.It’s a Terex 82-30, powered by a Detroit 6-71, 2-cycle diesel engine… and, it made a lot of noise… lolI don’t know if you remember, or noticed, but the hydraulic tank was mounted on the front, and should have had the name "Euclid", cast in it. They were a pretty good old dozer… a little on the big side for fires, though.And yes, I got stuck with ours once too… lucky we had a winch on it.Thanks for the pictures Bill, brings back memories….OCR

  4. Yep, OCR, the dozer was known as a Euclid to us. That winter when I was working with it as a contractor officer’s representative, we got it stuck several times while working on the fuel break project pulling a huge 80-pound per link anchor chain attached to a 5′ diameter steel submarine net float filled with gravel. The ball and chain crushed and uprooted brush, making a fuel break. When the dozer got stuck on the fuel break, there was just myself and the dozer operator there to extract it. Conveniently the dozer had a large ripper bar in the back (as you can see in the first photo), and of course the blade in the front. When it was stuck in mud or soft ground, the operator would raise them both, then we would pile brush, sticks, logs, and rocks under the blade and ripper bar. Then the blade and ripper bar would be lowered, raising the entire dozer and the tracks out of the mud. We would then pile brush and rocks under the tracks, and then the ripper bar and blade would be raised, lowering the tracks onto the brush and rocks. If we were lucky, the dozer could be driven forward or backward then… maybe all the way out, or perhaps just a few feet. If it was the latter, we would start the process all over again.When that winter began, I could barely spell "dozer", but by the time fire season started, I could extract one from a mud hole, and operate it on the ball and chain project when the operator’s girlfriend showed up for a conjugal visit. While he was, uh, busy, I kept the dozer going, cranking out the acres, keeping the boss happy. Little did he know why the regular operator frequently had a big smile on his face. And I had one too, because for a firefighter to have an opportunity to play with a huge dozer and a ball and chain was pretty special. I never got "carded" as a dozer operator, but occasionally a dozer, front end loader, or a Bobcat would be parked near where I worked and sometimes I’d borrow one to accomplish a project around the station on weekends when the engineers were not around. Because it was a lot easier than using a sharpened piece of metal attached to the end of a stick.

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