Wind “fuels” a fire?

Am I the only one that is bothered when they see this in a media report, which was found at WFTV in Florida?

Strong winds are helping fuel the fire.

As every firefighter knows, and some people might still remember from 9th grade General Science, three things are needed in order to have combustion.

Saying “wind fuels the fire” is saying oxygen is the fuel.

Firefighter pay and liability legislation making slow progress

The proposed legislation that would increase the pay and the professional liability for some federal firefighters is still waiting for action in several House of Representatives subcommittees. The bill is named the “National Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act”, H.R. 4488, and is being pushed by Casey Judd and the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association. Wildfire Today has covered it at length and also hosted a live discussion about the bill.

The Press Enterprise, which frequently does a great job covering wildland fire issues, has an article about the bill. Here is an excerpt.

The Press-Enterprise

Better pay and benefits and increased legal protection for the nation’s federal firefighters are needed to help reign in the increasing costs of battling wildfires across the country, say proponents of a bill making its way through Congress.

Compensating firefighters for all the time they spend at fire scenes and extending year-round health benefits to part-timers would help curb defections from the agency, they say. By strengthening its own ranks, the bill’s supporters say, the Forest Service would have to rely less on costly assistance from local and state fire departments.

Additionally, the legislation seeks to recognize the dangerous nature of firefighters’ work by changing their titles from “forestry technician” or “range technician” to “wildland firefighter.” It also would raise the mandatory retirement age from 57 to 65 in an effort to keep more veterans within the agency.

“If we can retain some of the younger folks that have been hopping ship, and we can keep some of that brain trust around for a few more years, we have a better opportunity to fill in the missing gaps of those federal resources,” said Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, which represents federal firefighters nationwide.

In 2008, there were more then 2,000 federal firefighters in Southern California, according to a U.S. Forest Service report. Local residents said a strong fire protection system is critical, and that includes having veteran firefighters ready to battle blazes on the vast swaths of federal land in the Inland area.

The pay changes would begin in a trial program expected to cost about $25 million over three years. Based on the trial, officials would assess whether it saves money; the hope is that the extra pay and benefit costs would be more than offset by savings related to the reduced dependence on other fire agencies, supporters said.

Outside agencies have negotiated lucrative contracts to assist the Forest Service firefighters on federal land, Judd said. The contracts often include administrative fees and the cost of housing contract firefighters in hotels, while Forest Service crews sleep in tents in makeshift fire camps, he said.

Federal firefighting costs have risen steadily in recent years, now totaling about $1.5 billion annually. In 2008, the government had to transfer $260 million from other accounts to cover firefighting. Officials expect firefighting to consumer more than half of the Forest Service’s discretionary budget by fiscal year 2011-12.

Introduced in January, the pay and benefits bill now sits before several House subcommittees, and it remains unclear how soon it might move forward. Judd spent much of the past week in Washington to drum up support and identify senators willing to take up the cause.

Forest Service spokesman Joe Walsh said officials in Washington are assessing the legislation and have yet to take a position.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation design on NASCAR car

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

The first round of voting for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation design for the paint scheme on the NASCAR car has ended, with the WFF design receiving 14,662 votes. If you voted for the car, thank you.

(note, March 19: this judging procedure below was corrected today.)

The ten cars receiving the most votes in the first round will move on to the second round. Voting during the second round will be between April 1 and April 15.

After the voting for the ten cars in the second round is complete, the judges will select the winner based upon:

1. Number of votes in the first second round (20%),
2. Originality of design (20%),
3. Feasibility of design (20%),
4. Creativity of design (20%), and
5. Ability of the design to inspire consumers (20%).

The information we posted previously about this contest is HERE and HERE.

UPDATE: March 19, 2010:

As of today the car is ranked #7 in the first round. Not bad in a field of over 78,000 entries. Each car is eligible for voting for only 15 days, and some cars are still open for voting. You can see the latest voting results here. It is too late to vote for the WFF car in the first round, but hopefully it will make the next round and we can vote for it again.

Six farmers killed in bushfires in India

If I interpret the story from The Telegraph correctly, “charred” means a person was entrapped and killed in a vegetation fire.

Silchar, March 13: Six farmers have been charred in bushfires raging through jhum fields in three districts of Mizoram since mid-February.

Mizoram minister for forest and environment H. Rohluna today said while two siblings were charred to death in Lunglei district on Thursday, another was burnt to death in Sherchip district while three others were charred in Aizawl district. It is not known when the other four were killed.

He said the victims in the Lunglei fire have been identified as C. Lalrinmuana, 47, and Lalrinchhana, 35.

Rohluna disclosed that peasants had lit the fire for clearing the bush and undergrowth on the jhum fields to make them conducive for farming.

The forest minister, however, said a blanket ban on jhum fire took effect on March 10, and the forest department would now be very strict in enforcing this ban on burning bushes.

Last year, four persons had been charred by a bushfire in Mizoram. Despite that, the bushfires were set off after the harvest this year too.

STIHL automatic calendar

Stihl Autumn CalendarMany of the chain saws used by wildland firefighters are made by STIHL. And in the eastern part of the United States some organizations use Stihl leaf blowers to build firelines in hardwood forests.

STIHL’s advertising agency, Euro RSCG of Germany, created the STIHL Autumn Calendar 2010 which every day automatically sheds the page for each day as it passes. It is a giveaway item to help market their leaf blowers.

Here’s a video showing it in action, set to the “Autumn” concerto of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons:

And, in case you wanted one, like I did, the calendar is only available in Great Britain.

IAWF conferences

IAWFThe International Association of Wildland Fire has been putting on wildland fire conferences for about two decades. The next three they have scheduled are:

  • 2nd Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire® Conference, San Antonio, Texas, April 26-29, 2010
  • 3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels® Conference, Spokane, Washington, October 25-29, 2010
  • 11th Wildland Fire Safety Summit®, Missoula, Montana April 5-7, 2011

The deadline for submitting abstracts for the October Fire Behavior and Fuels conference is March 15.

For more information go to the IAWF web site.