UC Davis begins Aviation Safety Certificate program

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The University of California at Davis is beginning a program to certify those involved in emergency response aviation. It appears that the curriculum is designed for individuals who manage aviation, and not necessarily pilots. They will cater to:

“aviation safety officers, emergency services pilots, forest firefighter aviators, border patrol aviators, medical-air transport personnel, law enforcement, homeland security officers and anyone involved in the field of emergency response aviation.”

The program consists of six courses, offered between October, 2008, and February, 2009:

• Aircraft Health Management
• Communications: Program Management
• Communications: Operations Management
• Aviation Leadership
• Human Factors and Operational Risk Management
• Safety Program Management

The certificate program focuses on:

“monitoring aircraft health, developing effective communication strategies, and instituting the principles of safe aviation operations”.

The courses will be held at the U. S. Forest Service training facility at McClellan Park, Sacramento, CA. UC Davis brags that the facility has

“high-tech resources and equipment, including a 10-megawatt nuclear reactor.”

I always prefer to conduct training at a classroom that has access to a nuclear reactor too.

More information can be found HERE.

Receive Wildfire Today on Twitter

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The first 140 characters of our blog posts are now being distributed by Twitter. You can receive them by instant message, as a text message on your cell phone, or on your Twitter web page . Our twitter name is: wildfiretoday

We just started this, so there may be a few bugs to work out. We’ll have to concentrate on putting the most important information in the first 140 characters. In most cases, you’ll have to come here to read the whole story since obviously we can’t tell you everything in 140 characters.

The Twitter web site is rather pathetic, so if you want to know more about it, check out the Wikipedia entry for Twitter. But here’s a quote from the Twitter site:

The New York Times calls Twitter “one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet.” TIME Magazine says, “Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app,” and Newsweek noted that “Suddenly, it seems as though all the world’s a-twitter.”

Terry Barton released from prison

Terry Barton, convicted of starting the 138,000 acre Hayman fire in 2003, was released from prison this morning. She started the fire while she worked as a Fire Prevention Technician on the Pike National Forest in Colorado.

The fire burned 133 homes and forced 8,000 people to evacuate, including the judge who presided over one of the proceedings related to the case. She served six years in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wildfire Today covered other aspects of this story HERE.

The picture is from 2002 when she appeared in court, courtesy of the Denver Post.

Helicopter bucket drops used on Universal Studios fire

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No doubt you heard about the huge fire at Universal Studios near Los Angeles today. The equivalent of two city blocks were on fire at the same time.

It burned furiously for hours. Early on, they had some water pressure problems, so they had engines drafting from a lake and even used some helicopters for water drops. Here is a still image captured from a video:

HERE is a link to the video on CNN.

The fire was adjacent to several acres of vegetation, and for a while they were worried about having a brush fire and a huge structure fire at the same time. It developed a convection column, not unlike a vegetation fire.

Still photos courtesy of ABC7 and LA Times.

Firefighters injured by lightning are now out of the hospital

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On May 29 we posted information about two firefighters, members of a Hot Shot Crew, that were injured by lightning while working on a prescribed fire west of Whitefish, MT on the Flathead National Forest. We are pleased to report that they have been released from the hospital. Apparently lightning struck some trees near where they were working.

By the way, the photo is not of that incident.

Prepare, Stay, and Defend…..in Montana

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The practice of “shelter in place”, also known as “prepare, stay, and defend” has been used in Australia and South Africa for decades, but it is rarely used as an official policy in the United States. However, the Painted Rocks Fire Rescue Company near Darby, Montana is hosting a public training session June 7-8 about Prepare, Stay, and Defend.

In addition to having a researcher from Tasmania at the meeting, a second researcher from the US Forest Service will be there to gather information about how the program is received by local residents. Battallion Chief Alan Tresemer will be the instructor.

The concept of prepare, stay, and defend involves having a homeowner in a rural area make their home as fire safe as possible by using fire resistant construction materials and removing flammable vegetation around the structure. Then, if the home is threatened by fire, the homeowner stays at the home, sheltering in place. By remaining at the house, they would be able to extinguish small spot fires near the structure, increasing the chances that the house will survive.

And by not evacuating, they would not be exposed to traffic tie-ups, or becoming entrapped by a fast moving fire. During the Cedar fire near San Diego in 2003 several at least five citizens died on Wildcat Canyon Road while they were fleeing the fire. And in the Tunnel (or East Bay Hills) fire near Oakland, CA in 1991 the same thing happened.

UPDATE, January 23, 2009
Further research about the Tunnel and Cedar fires reveals that 8 of the 14 citizens who died in the Cedar fire perished while they were evacuating. And 19 died while trying to evacuate from the Tunnel fire in Oakland.