A firefighter was seriously injured while fighting a wildfire in northern Iowa on Wednesday.
Below are excerpts from Explore Okoboji:
It took firefighters from seven area fire departments as well as a firefighting unit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service several hours to extinguish a massive fire late Wednesday afternoon and evening in the Spring Run complex east of Arnolds Park. Spirit Lake Fire Chief Pat Daly tells KUOO news his department was the first to arrive on the scene.
Daly says the blaze became so large and wind driven that it actually jumped a road.
One firefighter was seriously injured battling the blaze. He’s been identified as Jim Nygaard of the Superior Fire Department. Nygaard was transported by ambulance to Lakes Regional Healthcare and was transferred by air to a burn unit at a Twin Cities hospital. Information on his condition and extent of injuries wasn’t immediately available. KUOO news has learned a tractor Nygaard was using to help put out the blaze caught on fire.
A student working on her PhD at the University of Iowa wrote her dissertation in 2010 after studying the records of injuries to wildland firefighters. Carla Lea Britton titled her paper “Risk factors for injury among federal wildland firefighters“. We will not attempt to summarize the entire document, but below are some quotes that we thought were interesting in the Conclusions section:
P. 67: The wildland fire community should expand its focus beyond the investigation of fatalities and embrace new methodologies to evaluate and mitigate the impact of non-fatal occupational injuries in wildland fire.
P. 70: Comprehensive surveillance: The resources currently available to estimate and evaluate the burden of injury in firefighters are found in a diversity of situations and are not, in many cases, suitable for linking. Fire managers should work toward developing a new comprehensive occupational injury surveillance system to capture fire-related injuries, illness and fatalities across the spectrum of wild- and prescribed fires, training activities and types of employment.
P. 70-71: Partnerships: Guidance on the safety and health of wildland firefighters is provided by the NWCG’s Safety and Health Working Team (SHWT). The SHWT’s mission is to improve health and safety through workforce development, leadership and the development of standards using data collection and analysis to validate and prioritize safety issues. While the mission is commendable, the SHWT lacks both the resources and expertise to fully realize its goal. The SHWT is comprised of representatives from the NWCG member agencies. Most of the committee members are the national-level fire safety managers for the agencies they represent. While all have extensive backgrounds in fire suppression, few, if any, have any formal training in occupational health and safety. The SHWT should actively pursue partnerships with either the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or with university-based researchers to provide additional expertise, particularly in the area of injury epidemiology and prevention, topics on which there have been little research emphasis in the past.
P. 71-72: This project has shown that, even with sub-optimal data collected for other purposes, systematic evaluation of existing data can provide useful hints for prevention and point to areas where further inquiry is likely to be fertile. To move forward, the wildland fire community needs to commit to using existing data to the best advantage possible and to developing new surveillance methods to provide comprehensive information about all wildland firefighter injuries and their circumstances.
WHAG is reporting that a firefighter was injured after “falling nearly 75 feet down a cliff” in or near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia while fighting a vegetation fire. The firefighter was stabilized at the scene and transported to Winchester Medical Center for further treatment.
Bradley Fritts, the incident commander with the Bakerton Fire Company, said the injured firefighter will remain in the hospital until Friday. Mr. Fritts said the fire would be turned over to the National Park Service Wednesday morning.
A firefighter working on the Quaking Fire 40 miles southeast of Fredonia, Arizona was injured by a tree that was being felled by another firefighter on July 24. The firefighter was knocked to the ground and sustained injuries. Several EMTs evaluated, packaged, and arranged for transportation by a National Park Service helicopter to the South Rim Helibase in Grand Canyon National Park. From there a medivac helicopter took the firefighter to the Flagstaff Medical Center for evaluation.
The 273-acre Quaking Fire, reported on July 13, is not being totally suppressed, but is being managed for “protection and resource benefit objectives”.
At least three other fires are burning in the greater Grand Canyon area:
Sitgreaves Complex, 5 miles northwest of Parks, Arizona; 2,689 acres.
McRae Fire, 5 miles southeast of Tusayan, Arizona; 3,142 acres.
Kanabownits Fire, on the Walla Valley Peninsula on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, 270 acres.