Two New Jersey fire departments use social media to recruit and spread safety message

Above: A screenshot from the video shot produced by Carolyn Rizza about texting and driving.

At least two fire departments in New Jersey are using social media in their efforts to recruit volunteers and spread messages about safety.

The website NJ.com has an article about how the Amwell Valley Fire Company and the Township of Clinton are tapping the powers of Facebook and YouTube to interact with their customers.

This first video, about texting and driving, was made by 20-year old Carolyn Rizza, a volunteer firefighter with the Amwell Valley Fire Company as part of a scholarship contest.

The Township of Clinton Division of Fire produced the next video in an effort to recruit new members.

This is a good time to revisit something we posted on February 1, 2017. It is a description of the culture of firefighting in Chile, a country where almost all of the firefighters are volunteers. It was written by “scpen” who left it as a comment below one of the articles we wrote about the 747 SuperTanker assisting the Chilean firefighters.

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“The tradition of the volunteer fire fighters in Chile is a very old one. To become a volunteer firefighter there is a waiting list in every single town and city across Chile, and it often takes years to get an open slot, typically another member must sponsor the person applying. It is seen as more important and patriotic than volunteering to join the military. It is for life. Even old firefighters that are no longer able to fight fires, still show-up for training and other activities, or help with administration. Often until they die.

At the core, is a sort of belief that fighting fires and rescuing people is such an honor, and so important, that a paid, “professional” group, of fire fighters would not take it so seriously (correct or mistaken). It is not something that can be trusted to the vagaries of government ministers, budget cuts, and so on.

That said, the volunteer departments equipment is mostly provided by the government. Simply the firefighters receive donations in yearly fund raising drives, that they divided between them and is viewed as a thank you for their service through-out the year.

They do receive professional level training. Experts from the around the World are brought in to for training. Firefighters join specialized brigades such as dealing with chemical hazards, high-rise rescues, and so on.

This is not just a bunch of guys standing on the street corner they pick-up, and hand them a garden hose.”

The culture of volunteer firefighters in Chile 

Bomberos firefighters Santiago airport 747 supertanker
Bomberos (firefighters) that were supplying water for the 747 Supertanker at the Santiago, Chile airport January 26, 2017, pause to honor a fellow firefighter who was killed while fighting a fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

A few days ago “cspen” contributed a comment below an article we wrote on January 27 about volunteer firefighters, Bomberos in Spanish, setting up and operating a complex high-volume system for loading 19,200 gallons of water into the SuperTanker every time it pulled in to reload. In case you missed it, here it is again.

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“The tradition of the volunteer fire fighters in Chile is a very old one. To become a volunteer firefighter there is a waiting list in every single town and city across Chile, and it often takes years to get an open slot, typically another member must sponsor the person applying. It is seen as more important and patriotic than volunteering to join the military. It is for life. Even old firefighters that are no longer able to fight fires, still show-up for training and other activities, or help with administration. Often until they die.

At the core, is a sort of belief that fighting fires and rescuing people is such an honor, and so important, that a paid, “professional” group, of fire fighters would not take it so seriously (correct or mistaken). It is not something that can be trusted to the vagaries of government ministers, budget cuts, and so on.

That said, the volunteer departments equipment is mostly provided by the government. Simply the firefighters receive donations in yearly fund raising drives, that they divided between them and is viewed as a thank you for their service through-out the year.

They do receive professional level training. Experts from the around the World are brought in to for training. Firefighters join specialized brigades such as dealing with chemical hazards, high-rise rescues, and so on.

This is not just a bunch of guys standing on the street corner they pick-up, and hand them a garden hose.”

Only you…

Fire in the Lake San Antonio area of Monterey County, California, August, 2009. Photo by Vern Fisher.

The following article was contributed by Frank Carroll.

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Only You…

For the United States Forest Service and the other major federal, state and local wildland fire agencies, the music is playing the band.  It worked OK for the Grateful Dead.  It’s a different story when it comes to developing and conducting wildland fire policy.

It may surprise no one to discover that wildland fires are bigger, more costly, more damaging, and more out of control than in any decade before the present, all the way back to 1910.  There was so much large fire on the ground in the 2015 fire season we ran out of superlatives to describe how big and bad they were.  In many cases the fires burned together forming “charismatic megafires” of untold destruction, sometimes because we had no choice.

Author Stephen Pyne, in an often brutally honest book about where we’ve been and where we’re headed with fire management in America, observes that fire is managing us; we’re not managing fire (Between Two Fires 2015).

What began in the late 1960s as a scarcely heard warning siren that wildfire should be left to its own devices on certain wild lands (prescribed natural fire or “let burn” fires pioneered by the National Park Service) became, by 2000, a five alarm screaming wail heard round the world.  Our best laid plans have come to naught.  We are caught in a blizzard of falling ash, awash in a river of flying embers, and blinded by the smoke.  It is clear that no human power will stop the rising tide of flames in wildlands and Red Zone suburbs where 10 percent of our homes are, no matter what the cost.

How we got here is a tale worth reading.  Where we’re headed is into the fog of war, but not without guideposts and markers.  Based on the very sound idea that fire should play a natural role in natural resource management, agencies and scientists spent the past 50 years trying to work out how to get it done.  And they had help.  The Nature Conservancy can field its own firefighters and burn its own ground.  Environmentalists looked for ways to burn without having to pay for the work of preparing and herding fires, and without the expertise to help.  Their grand experiment in the theology/ecology of hope over the last 50 years accelerated the fuels problem. The fuels situation is also exacerbated in places where logging results in activity fuels with resulting backlogs needing treatment and feeding wildfires.

Continue reading “Only you…”

Washington state asks for volunteers to fight wildfires

Washington DNR volunteer signup

Illustrating the severity of the wildfires and the shortage of firefighters in the northwest, for the first time ever the state of Washington is asking for volunteers to help suppress the 12 uncontained large fires currently burning in the state. Five of those fires are “complexes” that are comprised of many fires, sometimes more than 10.

At first the Department of Natural Resources was asking for anyone who could operate heavy equipment, such as a dozer or grader, who would then be given specific wildfire training. But now the DNR is only accepting volunteer applications from:

…from those with wildland firefighting qualifications, including an Incident Qualification Card (commonly called a Red Card), a “Blue Card,” or a letter of certification from a local or rural firefighting agency stating that you have met appropriate physical fitness, experience and training standards for serving on wildfire incidents.

Please complete our online intake form by listing your qualifications and contact information to volunteer with our temporary community resource coordination centers in Colville, Omak and Castle Rock.

The DNR has set up centers at three locations to talk to potential volunteers:

Omak:  Jay Guthrie
Omak City Hall
2 Ash St. N
Phone 509-826-2546

Colville:  Julie Sacket
Washington State Department of Transportation
Second Floor
440 N Hwy 395
Phone 509-675-7847

Castle Rock: Kellie Williams
601 Bond Rd.
Castle Rock, WA 98611
Phone 360-575-5024

Wildfire briefing, January 14, 2015

Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano lava ignites brush fire

A lava flow from the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii ignited a brush fire on Tuesday that burned 270 acres. It was surrounded by fire breaks, but at 5:30 p.m. local time a dozer was working to clean up the existing break and construct a new line closer to the head of the fire. According to a Hawaii County Civil Defense update, the brush fire was west of Highway 130, about 1.5 miles from the Aina­loa subdivision. The agency said Tuesday afternoon that neither the brush fire nor the stalled lava flow pose an immediate threat to communities.

Granite Mountain Hotshots’ families treated to European boat trip

From the Daily Courier:

The families of Prescott’s fallen [Granite Mountain] Hotshots participated in a unique trip over the holidays. They were given an opportunity to see and visit the historic sites along Europe’s Danube River while finding solace amongst others who also have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones in recent U.S. tragedies.

Family members of the Hotshots were joined by family members of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire on June 30, 2013 in the worst wildland firefighting tragedy in more than 80 years…

The paper said 19 family members participated in the trip.

News from Australia: