Wildfire news, May 17, 2009

Canadian firefighter LODD

From FireFighterCloseCalls.com:

We, along with Chief Trent Hill and the members of the Keswick Valley FD, New Brunswick, Canada regret to announce the Line of Duty Death of Firefighter Phil Strang.  Firefighter Strang responded to the report of a fire behind a house in Keswick Valley Friday afternoon. Upon arrival firefighters encountered a power line that had sparked and set a small wooded area on fire.  While extinguishing the fire, Firefighter Strang collapsed from an apparent heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Doctor Everett Chalmers Hospital. Firefighter Strang was 64 years old. As always, our most sincere condolences.

Calilfornia: Water tender rollover

Photo courtesy of FirefighterCloseCalls.com

A water tender belonging to North Tree Fire lost control on Interstate 5 and rolled over several times Wednesday while returning from the Jesusita fire in California. It ended up on its wheels and the driver, with non-life threatening injuries, was able to self-extricate before the fire department arrived on scene.

It is likely the water tender was similar to the one below, in a photo from the North Tree site.

Photo courtesy of North Tree Fire

Obama’s environmental record at 100+ days

The Idaho Statesman, via McClatchy Newspapers, has an interesting article about the environmental record of Obama now that we are almost 4 months into his administration. It covers a wide range of topics, but here is an excerpt:

Even so, Tom Partin of the American Forest Resource Council in Portland, Ore., said it remained to be seen where the administration would come down when it came to managing the forests.

“I think they understand there is a problem in the forests and they need to do something soon,” Partin said. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

One way to track what the administration’s plans are is by following the money for such agencies as the Forest Service, the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. During the Bush administration, Dicks said, Forest Service funding was down 35 percent, EPA funding down 29 percent and Interior Department funding down 18 percent.

Under the budget Obama recently sent to Congress, Dicks said, funding for the Forest Service is up 3 percent, Interior is up 9 percent and the EPA is up 29 percent.

“We are still not back to where we should be had we received appropriate support from the previous administration,” Dicks said. “Although there are some holes, the new budget requests are better than what we have been accustomed to.”

Some environmentalists greeted Salazar’s appointment as interior secretary with concern. Though he was from a Western state, Colorado, they considered him too close to business interests, and viewed his support for protecting public lands as suspect.

“The jury is still out on Salazar,” said Bob Irvin, the senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife. “We are certainly encouraged by some of the decisions, but let’s see how they are doing in six months.”

Lompoc’s mutual aid

Mark Clayton, Vice President of Local 1906, wrote a short article that was published in the Lompoc (California) Record. It appears to be in response to something, but to what, is not clear.  Here is an excerpt from the curious article:

It is important to understand that our firefighters assist other fire agencies during fire season as part of a statewide Master Mutual Aid Assistance Plan. We participate in this plan out of a desire to aid our fellow firefighters, and serve the communities we are sworn to protect, of which Lompoc is the primary one. We do not participate for the purposes of earning overtime money and receiving accolades.

So, remember that each time a wildfire starts anywhere in our state, your Lompoc firefighters are likely en route to assist. Every dollar they earn is done so out of service to you. They and their families are proud to serve you, and do so out of a sense of duty, honor and professionalism, not the promise of financial compensation and glory.

Redding Searchlight’s series on wildfire

The Redding Searchlight has published another in it’s series of articles on the subject of wildfire. The current one is about fire prevention and fuel modification.  Here is a brief excerpt:

We can have all the responders in the world, but unless we do more work in the prevention area, we will never resolve the wildland fire problem in California,” said Ruben Grijalva, former director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Grijalva headed the agency as it fought last summer’s blazes, retiring in February after three years as chief.

One of the few places that isn’t a battleground in debates about preventing and fighting fire is the land where communities and wildlands meet.

“We don’t have to worry about fire in our forests,” said Chad Hanson, director of the John Muir Project, a conservation group in the northern Sierra. “What we need to focus on is home protection.”

There may be some people out there who disagree with Mr. Hanson’s analysis.