NWCG Approves Changes in Wildland Tactics

Changes that I proposed in my September 2009 column in Firehouse® Magazine have been adopted by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), an organization that represents the five federal firefighting agencies, in addition to state and local fire...


Changes that I proposed in my September 2009 column in Firehouse® Magazine have been adopted by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), an organization that represents the five federal firefighting agencies, in addition to state and local fire representatives. The changes will occur...


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The homeowner pointed to a burned structure in the process of being rebuilt and stated "thank you to the firefighter who at 1 A.M. rang our front doorbell and pounded on our bedroom window, screaming, 'Get out, fire! Get out, fire!' We looked out our bedroom window to see a San Diego City firefighter running back to his engine and disappeared down the road in the thick smoke. My wife, two daughters and I jumped out of bed and into one of our cars in the garage, still in our nightclothes. As we backed out to the street, the fire ignited the back of our home as we drove away. We lost every material possession we owned."

He continued, "The firefighter had every reason to believe we had already evacuated as all our lights were off and both cars were in the garage." The homeowner also said when they went to bed at 10 P.M., he thought (and so did the fire department) that the fire would not reach his area until daylight. But a new fire occurred due to another downed power line and the fire arrived about six hours before predicted. By this time, the homeowner was in tears thanking the unknown San Diego City firefighters for saving his family's lives. I firmly believe he was absolutely correct. This is what rescue drive-by is all about. If time allows, make sure that civilians are safely evacuated. Normally, evacuation is a law enforcement function, but in the early stages of a wind-driven wildland/urban interface fire, there will not be enough officers to do this most important function in a timely manner.

The changes in the IRPG will require updates in other wildland firefighting texts such as S-215 Fire Operations in the Wildland Urban Interface (I am currently assisting another working group updating the S-215 course) and the Fire Line Handbook. I want to thank our working group led by Jim Cook, Larry Sutton, USFS, and Chad Fisher NPS. Jim guided these changes through NWCG.

The above changes and others in the IRPG will be discussed in detail during a presentation at Firehouse World in San Diego, CA (scheduled to take place on March 3 from 8:30 to 11:30 A.M. in Room 2). Joining me will be Chief Brian Crandell and Captain John Culbertson of the Central Valley Fire District in Montana. In addition to being officers of Central Valley, both have extensive experience as volunteer fire officers. Also joining us is Captain Gary Harris, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who is safety/training officer, Region III.

JP HARRIS is battalion chief (ret.) with the Los Angeles County, CA, Fire Department, where he served for 38 years. For 10 years, he trained crew supervisors and superintendents in firing operations as part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Prescription Burn Program. Harris also has taught numerous wildland firefighting classes to career and volunteer firefighters, and he created the five-volume "Wildland Video Series." If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail jpharris1@sbcglobal.net

  4 NEW CATEGORIES 3 CURRENT CATEGORIES
  • Defensible; prep and hold • Needing protection, but savable
  • Defensible; Stand-alone without staffing • Needing little or no attention for now
  • Prep and leave! • Indefensible
NEW • Rescue drive-by