Firefighters host “mud run” as fund raiser

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I had never heard of a “mud run” until I found out that the New Harmony Fire District in St. George, Utah will be holding one on May 22. They are hoping to draw 300 to 1,000 participants for the cross country event in which racers will encounter military style barrier walls, culvert pipes, tires and mud pits. The course lengths will be 1K, 5K, and 10K. This will be the first ever mud run conducted in southern Utah and one of the highest elevation mud runs in the nation, topping out at 5,000 feet.

Here are a couple of before and after photos of a team from CrossFit in Cedar City, UT that tested part of the course.

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All photos are from the fire district’s Facebook page. More information about the mud run is HERE.

Apparently mud runs are a big deal in some parts of the country. Camp Pendleton Marine Base in southern California holds several of them each year that always sell out quickly and attract thousands of participants.

John Muir Project: “The myth of ‘catastrophic’ wildfire”

The Director of the John Muir Project, Chad Hanson, has written a paper about wildfire and its relationship to biodiversity and climate change, titled The Myth of ‘Catastrophic’ Wildfire. Here are some of his findings, as reported by New West:

• There is far less fire now in western U.S. forests than there was historically.

• Current fires are burning mostly at low intensities, and fires are not getting more intense, contrary to many assumptions about the effects of climate change. Forested areas in which fire has been excluded for decades by fire suppression are also not burning more intensely.

• Contrary to popular assumptions, high-intensity fire (commonly mislabeled as “catastrophic wildfire”) is a natural and necessary part of western U.S. forest ecosystems, and there is less high-intensity fire now than there was historically, due to fire suppression.

• Patches of high-intensity fire (where most or all trees are killed) support among the highest levels of wildlife diversity of any forest type in the western U.S., and many wildlife species depend upon such habitat. Post-fire logging and ongoing fire suppression policies are threatening these species.

• Conifer forests naturally regenerate vigorously after high-intensity fire.

• Our forests are functioning as carbon sinks (net sequestration) where logging has been reduced or halted, and wildland fire helps maintain high productivity and carbon storage.

• Even large, intense fires consume less than 3% of the biomass in live trees, and carbon emissions from forest fires is only tiny fraction of the amount resulting from fossil fuel consumption (even these emissions are balanced by carbon uptake from forest growth and regeneration).

• “Thinning” operations for lumber or biofuels do not increase carbon storage but, rather, reduce it, and thinning designed to curb fires further threatens imperiled wildlife species that depend upon post-fire habitat.

In addition to being the Director of the John Muir Project, Mr. Hanson is also a researcher at the University of California at Davis and was elected as one of the directors of the Sierra Club in 2000.

Two teenagers arrested for starting fatal Black Saturday fire in Australia

Two teenage boys were arrested for starting a fire in Australia on Black Saturday last February 7 in which a disabled resident burned to death. The Maiden Gully fire near Bendigo killed Kevin “Mick Kane, 48, destroyed 60 homes, caused $29 million in damages, and burned 875 acres.

The two boys, aged 14 and 15, are said to have started the fire, then were seen by witnesses when they returned to watch it. Later they were stopped by a police roadblock.

Between January 29 and March 26 they made 55 calls on a mobile phone to an emergency number, threatening operators and harassing them with obscene comments. Police used listening devices to investigate the pair.

The boys were each charged with arson causing death, deliberately lighting a bushfire, lighting a fire on a total fire ban day, and lighting a fire in a country area during extreme weather conditions. They face a total of more than 150 charges.

US Forest Service orders thousands of radios

BK radio DPHX5102XThe U. S. Forest Service has placed an order for $6.6 million worth of radios from RELM Wireless Corporation, also known as BK Radio. The order is for RELM’s D-Series digital P-25 portable and mobile radios which should be delivered in the first quarter of this year.

This could be an order for 4,000 to 6,000 radios. A typical RELM BK portable radio is their DPHX5102X P25 VHF Portable model (400 channels, 136-174 MHz, 5 watts; see photo at right). The retail street price of that unit is about $1,527 plus shipping and accessories, but there is no doubt that a $6.6 million order will produce per-unit prices much lower.

According to RELM, the USFS currently has about 57,000 RELM radios in service.

President proposes FY 2011 budget for wildfire agencies

The President of the United States has released the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 which begins October 1, 2010. One of the big changes that will affect wildfire management is that in addition to the FLAME Act wildfire suppression reserve fund, in FY2011 there will also be a “Presidential Wildland Fire Contingency Reserve Fund” of $282 million for the U.S. Forest Service and $75 million for the four Department of Interior wildfire agencies: the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management. The Presidential Wildland Fire Contingency Reserve Fund is to be used after the fully funded, inflation-adjusted 10-year average of suppression costs is exhausted.

Keep in mind that the President’s proposed budget will almost certainly be modified by Congress.

Below, are the details for the Department of Interior and the USFS.

Continue reading “President proposes FY 2011 budget for wildfire agencies”

Update on the U.S. firefighters deployed to Australia

Ion Worrell, an Australian friend, gave us an update on the U.S. firefighters that are deployed down under to assist with the fires in Victoria. It is easier to obtain information about this assignment from the other side of the world than from our own agencies.

Most of them have worked on fires in the Cann River area over the last three weeks. In between fires the 13 of them are working on a variety of projects at 9 locations around the state: Melbourne, Ballarat, Yallock, Colac, Bendigo, Traralgon, Alexandra, Woori Yallock, and Orbost. For example, Bob Lippincott and David Eaker are working on some Local Fire Management Plans at Woori Yallock. Here is an example of the planning process.

Deployed to Victoria, Australia:

  • Rod Bloms, U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
  • Shane Del Grosso, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS)
  • David Eaker, National Park Service
  • Jeff Gardetto, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Lynne Howard, USFS or USF&WS (?)
  • Jim Jaminet, interagency Fire Mgt. Officer
  • Allen Johnson, USFS
  • Yvonne Jones, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
  • Bob Lippincott, USFS
  • Noel Livingston, USFS
  • Rocky Oplinger, USFS
  • Mark Struble, BLM
  • Ron Woychak, BLM
Thanks Ion