The Rim Fire passed the 1977 Marble Cone (Ventana Wilderness) incident to claim the spot as seventh largest wildfire in California history. The ongoing fire measures at 179,000 acres according to Inciweb. The 1977 Marble Cone fire topped out at 177,000 acres. Next in line is the 2007 ‘Witch Fire’ that scorched 197,000 acres in San Diego County.
The 273,000 acre Cedar Fire (2007, San Diego County) is the modern day acreage king of California fires.
What separates the Rim Fire from other historical fire events is rate of growth. The 240,000 acre Zaca Fire (2007, Santa Barbara County) took more than a month to reach 180k acres, the Rim Fire has been burning for 10 days.
The scope of a blaze this size is hard to appreciate. The image below helps (click image to expand). Each square represents a square mile. As a crow flies from west to east over the fire it covers 25 miles. North to south 20 miles.
3,800 firefighting and support personnel are assigned to the Rim Fire, half rest while the others work. At the peak of the Basin Complex Fire (Big Sur, 2008) there were over 7,000 firefighters assigned to the incident spread between two camps. Forest Service personnel are currently spread thin across the west staffing dozens of active wildfires. Cal Fire and the USFS are lead agencies with help from Cal OES and mutual aid from fire departments from around the state.
Lower personnel staffing is really not a problem on the this incident. Firing strategies, dozer work and air operations are key components in this fight. Direct attack on a fire this size is futile.
America’s wildfire season lasts two months longer than it did 40 years ago and burns up twice as much land as it did in those earlier days because of the hotter, drier conditions produced by climate change, the country’s forest service chief told Congress on Tuesday.
“Hotter, drier, a longer fire season, and lot more homes that we have to deal with,” Tidwell told the Guardian following his appearance. “We are going to continue to have large wildfires.” …Climate change was a key driver of those bigger, more explosive fires. Earlier snow-melt, higher temperatures and drought created optimum fire conditions. …“This is a product of having a longer fire season, and having hotter, drier conditions so that the fuels dry out faster. So when we get a start that escapes initial attack, these fires become explosive in that they become so large so fast that it really limits our ability to do anything.” … U.S. Forest Service chief Thomas Tidwell (HotAir.com)
What is it about the PC culture of D.C. that turns administrators into parots? I don’t know if Tidwell is just gunning for a bigger slice of the budget pie or if he is trying to get a ticket to the better capitol parties but he is wrong.
|Total Wildland Fires and Acres (1960-2009)|
|Figures prior to 1983 may be revised as NICC verifies historical data.|
In 1963 7 million acres burned from a total of 164,000 fires. 1969, almost 7 million acres burned from 113,000 reported fires. - In 2002 7 million acres burned from 13,000 fires.
Drought plagued most of the western states, midwest and south between 2002 and 2012 which led to the burned acreage totals in recent years. Years where it is documented to be in an era of global cooling.
The works of Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milankovitch lead to an accepted theory that …orbital variations remain the most thoroughly examined mechanism of climatic change on time scales of tens of thousands of years and are by far the clearest case of a direct effect of changing insolation on the lower atmosphere of Earth.
– Hazardous Material by Kurt Kamm is a great read. Kamm’s mystery novel introduces us to Bucky Dawson, a Los Angeles County Firefighter assigned to the HazMat team. Dawson suffers from a painkiller addiction, invited by a job related injury. His addiction plays a central role in the story.
The plot line takes form as Bucky’s unit is called to assist on a meth bust near his station in the California desert. Players on both sides of the methamphetamine culture dominate the pages.
Kamm’s extensive research in HazMat, fire science, meth production and related chemistry, outlaw motorcycle gangs, desert topography and weather combine to paint a realistic image of the world he writes of.
Bucky Dawson is a departure from other characters central to two of Kamm’s previous works. In “Code Blood” the hero Colt Lewis was a somewhat naive rookie fire paramedic. Greg Kowalski, an L.A. County wildland firefighter in “One Foot In The Black” is also very young and green.
Bucky Dawson is a less sympathetic figure. At 31 he possesses years of life and career experience. As his experience unfolds the reader is allowed to accept the chips fall where they may. His experiences, mistakes and truimphs are his.
“Hazardous Material” is available on Amazon.
This is just sad.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Four Pittsburgh firefighters are suing seven companies that manufacture fire trucks or sirens, claiming they’ve lost hearing due to the blaring sirens.
The firefighters range in age from 38 to 62 and joined the city’s fire bureau between 1975 and 2000.
They’re claiming that Mack Trucks Inc., Seagrave Fire Apparatus LLC and five other firms “knew or should have known the products … were inherently dangerous, defective and hazardous to human hearing.”
The men claim they’ve suffered irreversible hearing loss “due to exposure to the intense noise.”
The firefighters are seeking unspecified monetary damages and are not suing the city.
A representative from Coast Products asked me if I would review their Rapid Response Knife (version 3.0) and HP14 LED Flashlight. I said affirmative.
I am no knife expert but I know a good knife when it’s in my hand. It took a few tries to get the flip opener to loosen up but once I got the hang of it the knife opened smoothly with one flip of the thumb. The textured handle allows a firm grip. The unit has a built on belt clip which is a nice touch. It’s compact, intuitively engineered and built for duty.
For an extended review this Youtube video offers what an expert knife reviewer has to say about the Rapid Response 3.0 from Coast.
Coast’s HP14 LED Flashlight is a winner. I like the textured stock, the weight and trim. It appears durable and many testimonials posted on the link above indicate it is unbreakable, as advertised. As well as use on the job I could see having one of these bedside and one in the go bag.
What I especially like about the HP14 is the slide focus that allows to you to refine or intensify the beam. The variable dim to bright option via the on/off button is a further bonus. I love this flashlight. A heavy duty sheath (with belt loop) came with the unit I reviewed. I am thrilled to own my HP14, I don’t know how else to say it.
“Hot Zone” is written by Retired Fire Chief Christopher Teale Howes who served for 31 years with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue.
Chief Howes writing style is engaging, if he had never gone into the fire service he could have been a writer. From the introduction to the conclusion the text flows easily as he describes his initiation to the Del-Trail Fire Department in 1976 to his retirement in 2007.
From firefighter to special ops captain to chief the reader is treated to a detailed look into all phases of firefighting. This is the kind of fire service related book every prospective firefighter should read.
For the civilian reader Hot Zone’s delivery simplifies otherwise confusing terminology and tactics making the stories more easily understood.
Chief Howes pays respect to many of his co-workers through the years and includes a chapter dedicated to the female fire personnel of Palm Beach County Fire. Seven wrote their personal stories and are included in the memoir. This is a nice tribute.
In summary this is a very special work that does not disappoint. From wildland fire response, to ems, to training, labor negotiations, department history, high points and sad losses Chief Howes presents it all without pulling punches.
The contents are well supported with well placed photographs, a detailed index and valuable glossary.
I’ve been fortunate to be asked to review many fire service related books, few were as special as “Hot Zone”! I would recommend Hot Zone, Memoir Of A Professional Firefighter to anyone looking for a story of an honorable career well served.
David Biederman is a veteran business journalist and author. He is also a frequent
contributor to The Journal of Commerce.
Fighting Forest Fires in Indonesia
Rainforests are characterized by high rainfall. It might therefore surprised people to learn
that rainforests are at great risk from forest fires.
In Indonesia, with the world’s second largest area of rainforest, fires pose a threat to the
nation’s rich biodiversity, including endangered populations of tigers, elephants,
rhinoceros and orangutan. The major cause of forest fires in Indonesia is illegal
encroachment into forested lands, where people slash-and-burn in order to set up
The pulp & paper industry, by virtue of how plantation concessions are set up, actually
serves to prevent illegal encroachment onto lands. All sustainably-managed plantations
are ringed by a protected buffer zone, which prevents illegal entry and subsequent fires.
Indonesia’s forestry industries are in the midst of rapid modernization. Asia Pulp &
Paper, the world’s third largest paper company, plans to source all of its timber from
forest plantations by 2015. As the company moves to an operating model based on
sustainable forest plantation management, protecting forests from fire damage has
become a top priority.
Since fire prevention is critical for both rainforest conservation and a globally
competitive forestry industry, multiple stakeholders are working together in Indonesia to
ensure that forests are protected.
Rainforest fires are highly destructive. They produce slow creeping flames – unlike the
rapidly spreading blazes that occur in temperate northern forests – that can burn for
months beneath peat lands or tropical undergrowth. Tropical trees have thin bark; a small,
slow-moving rainforest ground fire can destroy 40 percent of the trees in its path.
APP supports a broad array of firefighting initiatives in collaboration with local
communities and the Indonesian Government. Efforts are focused on fire prevention and
control, and community involvement. The goal is twofold; to protect valuable forest
resources and to mitigate the environmental hazards of fires.
As noted, most rainforest fires originate in pasturelands or fields where fires are used for
clearing brush and maintaining crops. During the dry season they can easily spread to
nearby forests. Tens of thousands of such fires are set each year, the vast majority by
ranchers or farmers. Fires are often the result of illegal logging activity and are
sometimes set to divert attention from illegal logging operations.
Most rainforest fires are extinguished by high moisture content beneath the tree canopy,
or by the arrival of the rainy season. During the dry season and especially during the el
Nino years, rainforest fires can burn on, with devastating consequences.
The 1997-1998 forest fires in Indonesia associated with el Nino led to the widespread
release of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other greenhouse gasses. The fires caused severe
ecological damage and health problems in Sumatra and billions of dollars in regional
economic loss. The resulting haze damaged rice production, and spread as far as the
Philippines, Sri Lanka and Australia.
APP has a strict no-burn policy. Open burning is illegal in Indonesia, although
enforcement across the 3000-mile archipelago is difficult, making the voluntary
firefighting efforts of companies like APP more critical.
APP works closely with Community Fire Guard (CFG) organizations across Indonesia to
educate communities about fire control and the dangers of forest fires, and to provide
incentives to discourage open burning. The company actively recruits company
employees and members of neighboring communities to participate in CFGs, and
provides them with training and tools.
Suppliers are strongly encouraged to work with local and regional CFGs as part of APP’s
broader sustainable forest plantation management programs. PT Arara Abadi, a pulpwood
supplier that manages over 1.2 million acres of forest and forest plantation, employs a
firefighting system that is considered one of the best in Asia.
Like APP, PT Arara Abadi adheres to a strict no-burn policy and has a three-pronged
program in place that includes fire prevention, fire control and community involvement.
Every PT worker, including independent contractors, is given fire awareness training.
The company has 60 firefighting crews with over 600 people covering 6 districts. Within
each district are 3–5 sub-districts. A full-time fire marshal in each district and another in
each sub-district work to ensure that the company’s firefighting policies are implemented
from top to bottom. The marshals meet at last once a month to confer on firefighting
A satellite is used to pinpoint potential or existing fires over Sumatra at least six times per
day. The satellite data is relayed to the National Environmental Agency (NEA) in
Singapore, where it is quickly analyzed. “Hot spots” that are either not fires (e.g.,
warehouses with dark roofs, ships at sea) or small fires in non-critical areas are ruled out.
A fire danger index evaluates the remaining risks and identifies hot spots that require
The data, accurate to within one kilometer, is relayed immediately to the appropriate
district manager, who is contacted again within 30 minutes to determine what action has
been taken. District teams are required to file a report within four hours of initial contact
with the hot spot.
As APP moves closer to full reliance on sustainably sourced plantation timber, fire
prevention and control will only grow in importance.
“APP will continue to battle forest fires in Indonesia with the help of our colleagues and
neighbors,” said Stephan Sinisuka, head of APP stakeholder relations and
communications for regions in East Asia, Australia and America.
Naturally I took interest in California fires since over the past decade Firefighter Blog has focused on the wildfires within the Golden State.
Every geographic area of the state has had its share of major wildfires over the past decade helped in large part by a 7 year drought in the middle of the decade. What has not burned interests me as much as what has already burned. Two areas stand out to me as most vulnerable. Below I took the liberty of marking up iDV Solutions’ map to highlight those two areas.
Perhaps the geographic spot most vulnerable to a major wildfire within California at the moment is the central Sierra’s that include the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. If you take a look at the current U.S. drought map the central section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is experiencing drought.
Note the area between the 75,000 acre Telegraph Fire in 2008 and the 150,000 acre McNally Fire in 2002. The area between those fires is roughly 170 miles and encompasses the southern boundaries of Yosemite National Park and all of the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The single most vulnerable city in this field from my point of view is Oakhurst.
The second area of concern is bounded by the 244,000 acre Basin Complex Fire of 2008 to the north and the 240,000 acre Zaca Fire of 2007 to the south. This area is mostly within the Los Padres National Forest from the southern Big Sur coast to just south of Solvang 175 miles to the south including Vandenberg Air Force Base. The community most at risk in this assessment is Cambria California.
Blame a combination of drought, high winds, high temps, Colorado Beetle Kill, lightning and arson for the most destructive wildfire season in Colorado in more than a decade. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and to a lessor extent Utah see their fair share of wildfire annually but the 2012 wild fire season began early and presently shows no signs of slowing.
The High Park Fire burning on the outskirts of Fort Carson has already claimed 248 homes. The Waldo Canyon Fire burning above Colorado Springs has forced the evacuation of thousands. Fire authorities are satisfied they will be granted air and ground resources in sufficient numbers to combat advancing flames fronts and protect residential property.
Firefighters are facing temperatures nearing triple digits with predicted winds to 25 mph through Tuesday. Temperatures in Colorado Springs will remain in the 90′s for the next eight days.
This Waldo Canyon Fire is reminiscent of the Monument Fire that struck Sierra Vista in Southern Arizona last June. Persistent SSW winds blew the fire off the Hauchuca Mountains and into residential neighborhoods claiming dozens of homes and outbuildings.
Submitted by Stephanie Fehrmann; Westex
Firefighters across the nation take extra measures to protect themselves against fire damage. They wear fire protective clothing made of flame retardant fabrics for the times they come in direct contact with flame or other fire igniting substances. They also stay up to date with all the laws and regulations concerning fire safety both at the workplace and at home. But you too can make efforts to protect yourself against becoming the next victim of second or third degree burns or even unfortunate fatalities resulting from fires in the home.
It seems obvious, but according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, two-thirds of home fire deaths were the result of fires in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms which were not working. Most households disable smoke alarms after they become a nuisance. Depending on the location, smoke alarms can be triggered by dust, cooking fumes, and even steam from a shower. Often times, the alarms are disabled and forgotten about. In addition to making sure your smoke alarms are working, the placement is important. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of a home, including the basement and outside each separate sleeping area. 38 percent of all home fires and 51 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms.
While smoke alarms alert inhabitants of a fire danger, escape routes are also an important aspect of fire safety. Depending on where the fire is or how strong it may be, visibility may be drastically affected by the smoke. Escape routes can save lives and should be practiced at least once a month. When planning an escape route for you and your family, be sure to have at least two ways to get out of each room and a designated meeting place should be decided upon. When a smoke alarm sounds, leave the house as soon as possible and never return to a burning building. Additionally, make sure everyone living in the home is familiar with the sounds of a smoke alarm.
Avoid Flammable Clothing:
Although this is not outwardly recommended by fire professionals, one can minimize risk of injury from a fire by wearing flame-resistant clothing. Depending on one’s profession, such clothing may be mandatory for wear during work hours. As the result of a rule, which was adopted by the Department of Commerce in 1971, in most states it is illegal for children’s sleepwear to be made of fabric or material that is not flame resistant. In order for a product to pass a “flame resistant” test, the garments must self-extinguish when exposed to a flame for three seconds. As a parent, the most important thing you can do is educate yourself and stay informed about the laws and regulations in your area. By keeping up to date with fire laws and regulations in your area, making sure your smoke alarms are up to date, and taking the time to plan an escape route, you can protect your family from the dangers a fire can pose.
Firefighters and Mesothelioma
After some lean years as a volunteer firefighter, Jonathan Smith landed a fulltime job
with the Augusta County Virginia Fire & Rescue last fall. The young firefighters and his
wife Jennifer brought home a new baby daughter Lillian in December. With the fulltime
firefighting job he’d always wanted and a new baby, Smith had high hopes for 2012.
But the young firefighter developed a dry hacking cough that wouldn’t go away, and
flu-like symptoms. He collapsed in February and an x-ray revealed spots on his lungs
that weren’t present when he had a pre-employment medical exam a few months earlier.
Smith, a former Boy Scout, was diagnosed in February with pleural mesothelioma, an
incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs. Smith is now undergoing chemotherapy
treatment to try to slow this aggressive cancer and save his life.
Firefighters are among the workers recognized as having an occupational risk of exposure
to asbestos, which can causes malignant mesothelioma tumors in the lining of the lungs
and abdominal cavity. Firefighters are exposed to smoke, soot, byproducts of combustion
and contaminants from building materials such as asbestos, a mineral fiber used in
insulation and asbestos tiles. Firefighters may inhale airborne asbestos particles in an
older house or building damaged or destroyed by fire if they are not wearing proper
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Among Firefighters
A known human carcinogen, asbestos was widely used in the construction of many
houses and buildings constructed before the early 1980s.
Many FDNY firefighters who worked at Ground Zero have experienced decreased lung function and respiratory problemssince exposure to asbestos and other toxic dust after the collapse of the World Trade Center.
According to the National Cancer Institute, a firefighter’s risk of developing
mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease depends on how much asbestos an individual is exposed to, the duration of the asbestos exposure and the chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers among other factors. But all forms of asbestos cause cancer.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is working with the United
States Fire Administration on a multi-year health study analyzing cases of cancer
and other diseases among 18,000 current and retired career firefighters. The study
will improve researchers ability to estimate the risk of cancer for firefighters and the
comparative risks to workers in other occupations.
The Stuart Draft Virginia Volunteer Fire Department, where Jonathan Smith served until
recently, held a fundraiser on March 17 to raise money for Smith’s medical treatment.
Scores of community residents attended the fundraiser to help the young firefighter who
was willing to risk his life to help them, according to the The News Leader newspaper of
Firefighters perform their jobs with remarkable courage and bravery in the face of many
dangers. Firefighters shouldn’t have to face the avoidable risk of asbestos exposure.
Firefighters who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or suspect they’ve been
exposed to asbestos on the job should talk to a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer.
After consecutive benign wildfire seasons California and the western states should see a return to normal or above normal fire activity in 2012. In mid February Cal Fire and local crews responded to a 200 acre fire in oak woodlands in Napa County, north of San Francisco. Big Sur and Paso Robles on the central coast have already seen active burning.
Kate Novoa on the Big Sur coast posted an image on BigSurKate.com showing impressive flame length from a local fire on February 7. Kimmer in Paso Robles offered this night view of a fire near Lake Nacimiento last week.
A friend in Prather, a community in the central valley foothills at the 1,500 foot level informed me there was very little green on her property. She said the last time it was this brown this early was 2008.
2008 was the tail end of a severe drought in California and dead fuel and fuel loads were high and fuel moisture was at historic low levels. 2010 and 2011 were very wet years and total burned acreage was down. There is no reason to believe we will see a repeat of the 2008 fire season but a dry winter and spring means we’ll experience a longer burning season at the very least.
It is important for rural residents to assess their defensible space before too much longer. Though we are still due for some more rain the die has been cast, we’re dry and the fire season is beginning.
South Fulton firefighters did it again. A home in Obion County Tennessee burned to the ground as responding units watched from their fire engines. Readers will recall this same fire department just last year watched as a home burned to the ground as the homeowners pleaded for help. Inside that home were family pets and generations of family heirlooms, all was lost.
This week they did it again reports the Wall Street Journal.
Firefighters responded when the home in Obion County, Tenn., caught fire, but didn’t extinguish it because the fee that the nearby town of South Fulton collects hadn’t been paid. Last year, another home — which also contained three dogs and a cat — in Obion County also burned to the ground for the same reason.
The South Fulton mayor, David Crocker, said the city makes no exceptions. “There’s no way to go to every fire and be able to keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department,” he said, according to MSNBC.
Crocker also noted that firefighters will help people in danger, whether they have paid or not.
Nearby Blount County, Tenn., also has a subscription service, but the fire chief says the same situation wouldn’t happen there, according to The Daily Times. Blount County charges a $100 annual fee, but nonsubscribers can pay $2,200 for the first two hours firefighters respond to a scene, and $1,100 for each additional hour.
After last year’s fire, the Obion County commission voted to expand subscription-based service in the county, over the objections of people like fire chief Bob Reavis, who said, “Subscriptions should be left to newspapers and magazines,” Time reported.
My previous post on this subject elicited 84 comments, by far the biggest response in the 8 years I’ve been blogging. I was late to this news but my inbox has been flooded with Tennessee locals beyond furious at this latest news.
If you are so inclined fire away, Firefighter Blog wants all opinions.
One of the greatest benefits of running this blog is the occasional opportunity to review novels based on the fire service or characters working in the field. Two books in the queue are Cemetery Bird by Bridget Bufford and Code Blood by Kurt Kamm. Kamm’s Code Blood follows up on his critically acclaimed books Red Flag Warning and One Foot In The Black. Kurt Kamm is becoming the Joseph Wambaugh of fire service novels.
Cemetery Bird is the story of a USFS firefighter who suffers an injury on the job and returns to civilian life to care for an autistic nephew.
I look forward to digging into these books and will offer my reviews ASAP.
Austin Texas Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr chose to remain on her golf vacation in Colorado as deadly wildfires burned near her city. Statesman.com reports “As fires tore through hundreds of Central Texas homes, Austin officials dispatched nearly 200 of their firefighters to help across the region and issued an urgent request Sunday for 25 off-duty firefighters to report to work.
But Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr stayed in Colorado for a Labor Day weekend golfing trip, leaving subordinates largely in charge of her department’s response while keeping in touch by cellphone and email.”
This is an outrage. At the same time thousands of Texans were repeating the call for help from retired and off duty firefighters on Twitter and Facebook the fire chief of the largest city in the region teed it up. If morale in Austin was not low before it is now. As a former firefighter I cannot understand this line of thinking. Obviously fighting fire is not her top priority.
There could not be a less hospitable spot for a major wildfire than the Merced River Canyon near Yosemite National Park. In July and August of 2008 the Telegraph Fire burned over 50,000 acres and claimed dozens of homes in and around Mariposa just down canyon from where the Motor Fire is raging.
The Motor Fire has burned 3,000 acres in two days and firefighters are still in the early stages of formulating a plan of attack. Initial reports had the fire burning on both sides of Highway 140 and the Merced River which would give the fire two distinct heads and directions. Maps are showing the fire burning mostly on the north side of the river and highway. The Telegraph Fire burned on both sides of the canyon as it raced upstream towards Yosemite which complicated suppression activity. Firefighters could not use the massive Merced River as an anchor.
The GeoMac image above highlights the perimeters of recent fire activity including the Telegraph to the west and the Grouse and Big Meadow fires to the east. The Big Meadow and Grouse burns will act as a pair of defensive tackles blunting (somewhat) the eastern progression of the Motor Fire. There is no recent fire history north of the Motor so a run to Highway 120 is entirely possible.
A look at the area of responsibility shows this will be a Forest Service show with Cal Fire responsible for only a couple of strips of land and property along the river and highway. Cal Fire was responsible for suppressing the Telegraph Fire and at one point had 4,500 firefighters, 30 or more fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, 61 fire crews and 101 fire engines on scene. It will be interesting to see how many resources the Forest Service puts in use.
Cal Fire, California’s elite wildland firefighting force is set to charge homeowners within Cal Fire’s area of responsibility $145 per inhabitable structure. It’s being called a “fire prevention fee” and the bill will create a Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund.
The crux of the issue is hardly arguable.
(c) The costs of fire prevention activities aimed at reducing the effects
of structures in state responsibility areas should be borne by the owners of
(d) Individual owners of structures within state responsibility areas receive
a disproportionately larger benefit from fire prevention activities than that
realized by the state’s citizens generally.
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature that the economic burden of fire
prevention activities that are associated with structures in state responsibility
areas shall be equitably distributed among the citizens of the state who
generally benefit from those activities and those owners of structures in the
state responsibility areas who receive a specific benefit other than that
Assembly Bill No. 29 dictates the fund will feed the following:
Moneys in the fund shall be used only for the following fire prevention
activities, which shall benefit owners of structures within the state
responsibility areas who are required to pay the annual fire prevention fee
pursuant to this chapter:
– Local assistance grants.
– Grants to Fire Safe Councils, the California Conservation Corps, or
certified local conservation corps for fire prevention projects and activities
in the state responsibility areas.
– Grants to a qualified nonprofit organization with a demonstrated
ability to satisfactorily plan, implement, and complete a fire prevention
project applicable to the state responsibility areas.
– Inspections by the department for compliance with defensible space
requirements around structures in state responsibility areas
– Public education to reduce fire risk in the state responsibility areas.
– Fire severity and fire hazard mapping by the department in the state
– Other fire prevention projects in the state responsibility areas,
authorized by the board.
– The board shall establish a local assistance grant program for fire
prevention activities designed to benefit structures within state responsibility
areas, including public education, that are provided by counties and other
local agencies, including special districts, with state responsibility areas
within their jurisdictions.
Kate in Big Sur offers a nice Q and A on the subject for her readers here.
When fire swept down canyon and into the grounds of their monastery a group of five Buddhist Monks were waiting. None of them had direct fire ground experience but what they possessed was a lifetime of physical and mental training in their discipline that helped prepare them for what they faced.
Author Colleen Morton Busch spent two years preparing this comprehensive documentation of their story. She accurately describes the events leading to the five being left alone to save their monastery through personal interviews and U.S. Forest Service fire reports. In addition Colleen utilized the Freedom Of Information Act to secure notes by fire commanders.
The story of Tassajara Zen Center and the plight of the monks within during the Basin Complex Fire in 2008 was a story I personally followed and wrote about here in real time as events unfolded. I made my opinions known in 2008 and those opinions are reflected in ‘Fire Monks’.
I recommend Fire Monks because it is a story like no other. When else have you read a story where resident guardians of an historic cultural learning center were abandoned to fend for themselves as fire commanders withheld the aid of 16 available helicopters, numerous fixed wing aircraft, dozens of structure protection fire engines, dozens of fire crews and hundreds of firefighters?
Buy Fire Monks and read the story.
Firefighter Blog archive of the Basin Fire. (54 posts)
Firefighter Blog archive Tassajara tagged posts. (7 posts)
Luna New Mexico is directly in the path of the monstrous Wallow Fire. GeoMac mapping software shows the fire taking direct aim at the tiny New Mexico community. Winds in Luna are blowing at 7 mph with gusts to 20 mph from the w/nw. Relative humidity in Luna is at a remarkable 4% at this hour. Wind in Luna tomorrow will come from the west at 9 mph but will increase into the teens Monday.
Two thousand five hundred firefighters are battling the Wallow Fire, less than half the number you might expect for a fire of this magnitude. When you under man an incident of this size you are acceding to the will of the fire and asking more from the personnel on the ground than they can safely deliver. Granted not a lot can be done against gale force winds but when you have only ordered up eight (8) bulldozers for a 300,000 acre fire burning for more than a week it suggests something is wrong.
I was talking with a retired Cal Fire Captain days ago about this fire and we were discussing the eventual perimeter. I was thinking this would run to the high desert and he contended they were probably building dozer “freeways” upwind somewhere to halt the progress at that point! Of course you are right I said. Of course, of course.
At that time we assumed there were dozers en route, we were wrong. Eight bulldozers over 600 square miles is a joke. It’s not like there are demands on fire resources throughout the region, this IS the big show. They could have used eight bulldozers in Nutrioso and still been short by a few. There can be no dozer containment lines of substance over 300,000 acres with the equivalent of a dozer strike team.
I got word last night from a friend in Arizona that was listening to the fire briefing on local TV. The incident commander apparently stated to the crowd that he was not up to speed on what is happening on the left flank. Apparently one or more of the three Indian reservations with local jurisdiction are doing there own thing on that flank. If true this is nothing short of amazing. Such an admission is bad for firefighter safety and morale in general.
You cannot fight a battle when you don’t know who you command. This is dangerous as well as a disservice to the forest and inhabitants therein.
Evacuated residents of Alpine and Nutrioso are not being told what has happened to their properties. There is no reason for this. Why put residents through this kind of stress when there are command personnel (div. sups.) on the ground in both communities. I have commenters with local interests asking on my blog if anyone knows the status of their home or the homes of their parents of friends. Come on, someone with a map and a radio do some damage assessment and give the folks a break.
I want to be clear, my criticisms are not pointed at the firefighters on the ground or in the air.
Here are some maps and images. Not much news is coming out of the incident base so I will continue to cover this fire through webcams, satellites and hearsay.
Update: In fairness to the Incident Commander (I’m trying) he was assigned to the fire with his team on June 5. The fire is split up between numerous teams and it is possible he was not brought up to speed on the entire fire. Even so as IC he should be up to speed in full before addressing the community. On this we should all agree.
Bill at Wildland Fire asks and answers the question, “Where are the VLAT’s? (very. large. air. tankers.)
Image, Google Earth
5 pm June 5 updated map below;
Last update from local Arizona media place the Wallow Fire at 180,000 acres, zero containment. Note in the updated GeoMac fire mapping software how the active fire is burning on all fronts. Long range spotting to the north and east will fill in considering the lack of resources committed. Weather will dictate now where the Wallow Fire goes and for how long.
Have a look at the fire progression in only six hours today. Note the easterly run towards the New Mexico border. That side of the fire appears lost completely. On the north and west front it appears firefighters are trying to or have tried to contain it south of Forest Service Road 249 and east Forest Service Road 91. Firing operations may account for the spots on the GeoMac imagery. If they lose that their next containment line might be Highway 260 to the north and Highway 261 to the west. Fire equipment is being staged in Eagar.