Oregon enlists Bigfoot for help with wildfire prevention

Bigfoot wildfire prevention

The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal’s “Bigfoot: Believe in Fire Safety” campaign is returning for the 2020 wildfire season, asking Oregonians to protect their communities by preventing wildfires.

“This really comes down to protecting communities and preventing wildfires,” says State Fire Marshal Jim Walker, of the OSFM’s Bigfoot campaign. “Wildfire prevention begins with all of us. Together we can make a positive impact. Since most wildfires are started by people, please do your part to prevent them.”

In response to the challenges of recent wildfire seasons, the OSFM enlisted Pacific Northwest icon Bigfoot, friend in fire prevention, to inspire the public to take action and reduce risks of human-caused wildfires.

The campaign first launched in spring 2019. From the start, Bigfoot served as an iconic messenger to encourage Oregonians and visitors to protect our communities and homes from human-caused wildfires.

OSFM’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Stephanie Stafford made the connection that wildfires occur where Bigfoot “lives,” which created the opportunity to promote awareness around fire prevention in the wildland urban interface (WUI). Data show the most costly fires in recent years nationally all occurred on WUI lands.

Wildfire threats to Oregon’s communities have led to longer and costlier fire seasons for state and local agencies. The wildfire problem also has captured the attention of Oregonians. Statewide they see the effects of fires on forests, as well as on homes in the wildland urban interface.

In the past two years, data collected in Oregon for the National Fire Incident Reporting System show there were 14,971 outdoor fires with 554,196 acres burned. Most of these outdoor fires were caused by unintentional human ignition rather than natural sources such as lightning.

The OSFM will be working with its more than 300 Oregon fire service partners to help share Bigfoot-themed education and branding materials that encourage Oregonians to “believe in fire safety,” around their homes and when recreating around their communities and in the outdoors.

The Oregon fire service plays an important role in providing critical first response for initial suppression of many wildfires that begin in their jurisdictions and can often spread to public lands.

In 2019, fire agencies helped Bigfoot reach residents statewide, and the OSFM will be providing Bigfoot materials for agencies to share and motivate their residents to prevent wildfires.

Bigfoot wildfire prevention

More than 40 Bigfoot fire prevention posters can be downloaded at the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s website.

 

Proposal for Major Wildfire Action Plan in California

Photo by Jeff Zimmerman
Tubbs Fire, October, 2017. Photo by Jeff Zimmerman.

Retired Fire Chief John Hawkins has written what he calls a “Major Wildfire Action Plan” for the state of California. The Chief describes the document as “comprehensive and broadly addresses the wildfire problem via the four accepted phases of emergency management: Prevention, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation.”

The catastrophic fires of 2017 and 2018 in California are evidence that something needs to change. Maybe this four-page document will help move the conversation along.

Power poles treated with fire resistant paint survived the Sheep Fire

Sheep Fire INL smoke fire
A smoke column over the Sheep Fire in Eastern Idaho, July, 2019. BLM photo.

(From the Bureau of Land Management)

Mitigation efforts reduce impacts of 112,000 acre Sheep Fire

The lightning caused Sheep Fire started on the evening of July 22 on the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site in eastern Idaho. The area has a history of large, wind-driven wildfires that burn quickly through the grass and sagebrush desert. The Sheep Fire was no exception. It quickly became INL’s largest fire in history consuming over 112,000 acres.

power poles damaged fire wildfire
Power pole damaged during the T 17 Fire at the INL in 2011. BLM photo.

Firefighters worked hard—and successfully—to save facilities from the wind-driven fire, but infrastructure losses were incurred.  Transmission lines providing electricity to multiple counties across eastern Idaho are prevalent in the area, and their wooden power poles were particularly at risk. Approximately 61 rights of way for transmission lines cross BLM lands near INL. The INL itself has 4,000 power poles situated in brush and grass fuels.

During the active fire seasons of 2010 and 2011, which burned over 160,000 acres of both BLM and INL lands, power poles often burned, resulting in power outages, public safety issues and unplanned replacement costs. After the 2011 fire season, BLM fire mitigation specialists from the Idaho Falls District met with local power company officials, county officials and the INL. They discussed solutions to the considerable loss of power poles incurred from wildfires. The BLM proposed using a latex-based fire retardant paint on power poles to help protect them from burning.

fire retardant paint damaged wildfire fire
Fire retardant paint applied to power poles. BLM photo.

The INL decided to implement this proposal—having lost almost 60 power poles just in 2011. Although the treatment cost $100 per pole, the INL staff was willing to make that investment due to the high replacement cost of $1,200 to $2,500 per pole. Over the next two years, INL painted 3,000 of its power poles 5 feet up from the ground with the fire retardant paint. INL prioritized power poles receiving the paint based on service area, damage risk and vegetation density.Every pole painted in the latex-based fire retardant paint survived the Sheep Fire. Even poles that had not been repainted since their initial coat in 2012 and 2013 survived.

INL’s mitigation efforts successfully kept power to its grid during the Sheep Fire. While wildfires will continue to threaten infrastructure, Idaho Falls District BLM will continue finding innovative and cost effective partnerships in eastern Idaho to mitigate wildland fire impacts.


UPDATE: The product used by the INL is Osmos Fire-Guard Wood Pole Protection.

Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands dances with Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear Hilary Franz
Smokey Bear and Hilary Franz, Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands, in a screengrab from the video below.

Smokey Bear and Hilary Franz, Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands, filmed a fire prevention public service announcement with Smokey Bear.

Fire prevention mascot in Chile

ForestinThe United States has Smokey Bear for wildfire prevention and Woodsy Owl to promote caring for the environment. Chile has one mascot, Forestín, for both of these activities, and more.

According to Wikipedia:

Forestín is the official mascot of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) of Chile. It is a coypu (nutria) which can serve as fire brigade (yellow fire resistant jacket and helmet), park ranger (green shirt and quepi) or forester (yellow shirt and green planter), which was designed to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires.

Forestín was introduced to the public in 1976 and since then has evolved.

Forestin

Here are a couple of videos showing Forestín in action.

World’s fastest woman makes PSA for fire prevention

Above: Tori Bowie. Screenshot from the PSA.

A public service announcement for wildfire prevention featuring Tori Bowie has won an ADDY advertising award. Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Mississippi Forestry Commission produced the 30-second video starring the sprinter who in 2017 was the world’s fastest woman at 100 meters during the IAAF World Championships in London.

After growing up in Mississippi Bowie competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics to win a Gold medal in the 4x100m relay, Silver medal in the 100m dash, and Bronze in the 200m.

Tori Bowie fire prevention wildfire
Tori Bowie. Screenshot from the PSA.