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  1. #1
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    Question Field/crop fires. How do you fight them?

    I was wondering how you would go about puting out a corn field fire? There have been several field fires lately where i live but for those fires the corn had already been cut so a couple brush trucks were able to take care of them. But for a corn field that hadn't been cut it seems like it would be a heck of a job to get it out.

    The area im in(SW Michigan) would require a tanker shuttle because were mostly a rural area, and been very dry here this year so drafting from creeks/streams is probably out of the question. Also there is alot of fields so there is the possibility that fire could spread.





    BTW if it makes a differince, i am NOT a FF. But I plan on becoming one once im 18.


    **EDIT**
    I may be slow responding to your questions as the WT has to "approve" my posts first and we all know how quick they are at that...

    **2ND EDIT**

    I have read the posts and thank every one posting. But im gunna have to take a back seat to my own thread until the WT gets around to aproving my posts. (pigs may fly first)
    Last edited by FireBuffMI; 11-19-2008 at 04:23 PM.

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    You might get a little more help with this question in the wildland firefighting section of the forums.

    When fighting brush/woodland/field fires (I'm a young FF myself so If I am incorrect in my information, someone please correct me), there are many factors that must be taken into consideration.

    Topography, time of day, time of year, Rel. Humid., wind speed and direction, fuel moisture, fuel load, approaching weather systems, and available resources are just some of the factors that will help the IC decide on the best way to attack the fire.

    I'd probably try and "attack from the black" with brush trucks or small handlines if the field is accessable. If not, let the forestry boys put a line around 'er.
    MCFD Station 1- "The Second-Due Saviors."
    ***My views and/or opinions on this site are those of myself and not my department.***

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    If your quick you could probably knock it out right away with a pincer attack after creating a good anchor point. One engine on each flank pumping and rolling would suffice. Call in air support if possible. It might take a while getting the appropriate amount of water so a few acres will probably burn prior to getting a handle on it. Depending on the factors listed above would determine many things about the fire's activity. I would be willing to bet the fire would be slower moving with high intensity.

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    If not, let the forestry boys put a line around 'er.
    Ya, no forest boys around here. And I've never seen a air tanker used around here ether. They might have one that they keep at Detroit Metro. but I don't know for sure. And the next closest air tanker would be up in the U.P.(only 300mi away )

    It just seems like it would be so easy for a field fire to go "poof" and burn down half the county...

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    My department would treat it as a wildland fire and request a DNR heavy rig and as much manpower and equipment as possible.

    -Damien

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    Default Standing Corn Fire

    We have fought a couple of these over the years. Weather and fodder density play a big role in how aggressive you can get. We generally will fight it from the side and black. Using local resources, a tractor and disk will lay a boundary and we will force the fire into it with support across the way in case anything jumps the line. All the departments around here are geared for these and other grass type fires.

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    We had one this year. 3 farmers were out bush hogging a line around the fire. The fire was about 125 acres or so of corn go up one time. We did try to put out the fire but when it came down to it we pretty much just let it burn and kept it from spreading. Luckily it was not windy or it would have been a pain.

    We did end up with help form 3 other departments before we were done. Forest service was called but don’t know what they said. It took about 12 hours to get it all the way out. With out the farmers help it would of taken a lot longer.

    The bad part is we had 2 mva’s and one of the departments had one during the fire.

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    Most cornfields have pretty good established perimeters.

    I'd drive around it laying down some fire and burn it in. That's an advanced technique.

    Otherwise, i'd say patrol the edges, put a wet/foamline down and let it burn in.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    It is simply for us. We don't! Corn fields, brush, grain, trees or etc. are not worth risking the life of a fire Department firefighter. There are agencies and crews specially trained for those types of fires, as someone already stated that is probably where you should look for an answer under Wildland Firefighting If there is a structure we will protect the structure. If there is a person involved then we will risk our life to save them. But not for corn trees or anyother kind of wildland fire. In our area we have been unfortunate to have lost two young firefighters to wildland fires. A fie departmetn firefighters bunker gear just is not appropriate to be fighting wildland fires. Matter fact fact, it is dangerous beyond comprehension.

    I applaud your couriosity in trying to learn all you can. Keep looking and learning. You will make a good firefighter.

    BTW... I use "fire departmet firefighter" to identify a structural firefighter from a wildland firefighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Most cornfields have pretty good established perimeters.

    I'd drive around it laying down some fire and burn it in. That's an advanced technique.

    Otherwise, i'd say patrol the edges, put a wet/foamline down and let it burn in.
    That's what I'd do. If the corn is already cut then you're not saving anything. All fires eventually go out on their own. Keep it from spreading to something else and you're good to go.
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

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    Obviously some city folks have been answering you lately. A corn field is cultivated and not wild land. It is not corn trees either. This is someones property the same as there home. It is also there living, many around here are small farmers that cannot do the insurance. If done correctly standing corn is not that hard to stop, just have to coordinate and have the equipment needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwspeer View Post
    Obviously some city folks have been answering you lately. A corn field is cultivated and not wild land. It is not corn trees either. This is someones property the same as there home. It is also there living, many around here are small farmers that cannot do the insurance. If done correctly standing corn is not that hard to stop, just have to coordinate and have the equipment needed.
    Not the city, but the suburbs, I admit.

    How many times do you even see a cornfield burn? I can't remember the last time we had one burn.

    If it is burning, is the corn really worth anything? It's certainly dried out enough to burn. Would that be feed corn if it's that dry?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    They can save or use the corn some of the time. The object is to keep as much of it from getting burned as possible. We see three or four of these a year around our area. (We cover just over 100 square miles in south east Indiana) I wasn't trying to start anything, we have even made the decision to pull back and go defensive if the environment or terrain would create to large a danger for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwspeer View Post
    They can save or use the corn some of the time. The object is to keep as much of it from getting burned as possible. We see three or four of these a year around our area. (We cover just over 100 square miles in south east Indiana) I wasn't trying to start anything, we have even made the decision to pull back and go defensive if the environment or terrain would create to large a danger for us.
    You didn't start anything! You raise a very valid point.

    But what i'm saying is, if the corn is healthy, will it even burn? It seems very green and the corn is sure moist.

    I do see fields that were not harvested when it was ripe and the stalks and the plant have all turned brown and crunchy. I imagine that might burn, but is it usable corn?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Good, a little gun shy from some of the other forums.

    I understand your question better also. When it is green is will not burn.
    The dangerous time is when they begin to harvest until they plow the fodder under. It seems a good snow also helps reduce the problem greatly also
    The usual scenario is that the equipment they use to harvest the corn, combines, pickers, trucks, tractors, etc., causes the fire because of failures like bearings overheating or backfires from the engines.
    A couple of years ago it got dry enough here that a cigarette from a passing car set two large fires we fought with seven other departments and burned 40 and 200 acres each. That summer and fall we actually worked 22 hours straight at various grass, crop, and woods fires. That is highly unusual for a department only making 140 runs a year on average.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwspeer View Post

    When it is green is will not burn.
    oh it will burn alright lol just add a lil "special lighting juice"
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    Red face

    But its a "good" burn, after hours only of course

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    Well, here in southeast Louisiana, we don't have much corn but we do have a hell of a lot of sugar cane. We have boucoup (that's a whole bunch in French ) cane field fires but we hardly ever get called out to one. Why? Because the farmer set it! It's a universal practice here.

    Once upon a time, they used the old style cane cutters that cut and laid down the cane stalks in rows. Then they'd light the field on fire to burn off all the shucks and leafy stuff, leaving the rows of cane stalks to be picked up and brought to the mill (doesn't harm the cane).

    Nowadays they have combine harvesters (more like a corn combine) that chop the stalks into shorter pieces and throw them directly into a trailer, leaving behind all the leafy chaff and "trash" laying in the field. The farmers claimed that with this new combine they would not have to burn the fields anymore, but now they still burn the fields to get rid of all the chaff after harvesting. It's usually a slow-moving, lazy line of fire that you can actually beat out with a couple of swatters and brooms if you have to.

    A few years ago, when they first got the new combines, they would actually burn standing blocks of cane before cutting it, to burn off most of the leafy undergrowth so the combines wouldn't choke down on it. I haven't seen them doing that lately, which is a good thing, because that was a BIG fire.

    Basically, in this part of the state, if anyone ever calls 911 to report a field on fire, you know they're from out of town

    The way the fields are laid out, a fire will usually contain itself to the "block" it's in when it reaches a headland. The only time we usually get called is during an extremely dry spell when a field fire threatens to spread to private (non-farm) property. I recall about 5 years ago we had a pretty bad year for that...we haven't been called to any yet this season.
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    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
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    An example....
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 11-19-2008 at 04:48 AM.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Typical new style harvester...notice the leafy remains littering the field, which will have to be burned off later...
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    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Standing cane burning. This cane is apparantly not real dry, or you'd have fire really blowing out of the top. Still, a fire I'd prefer not to have to interfere with...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    This is what it CAN look like
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Any concerns about air quality, by burning off those fields?

    Here in NJ, there would be issues with that, although we do allow ag burning.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Smile

    Good thread, it brings different perspectives from different areas. On this one each different technique appears to work for your departments. Keep up the good work!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Any concerns about air quality, by burning off those fields?

    Here in NJ, there would be issues with that, although we do allow ag burning.
    Sure, I've got some concerns with it, but apparantly the state doesn't...."Dont' F*** With Farmers" is the prevailing wisdom around here

    I think all the farmers are supposed to attend some kind of class on safe burning...I don't think air quality even enters into the equation, though, it's more about not letting the fire get out of control.

    *WARNING: RANT MODE ACTIVATED * You know, I work in the chemical industry, in one of the biggest facilities in the area, and we're always getting a bum rap about how the big bad chemical companies are polluting the environment...but right in the same area there's hundreds of acres of cane burning every day from September to January, and smoke pouring out of the sugar mill stacks, and crop dusters dropping pesticides all over the whole community, but nobody ever seems to question any of that! My plant would NEVER be allowed to spew the kind of stuff the farmers put into the air and the water, they'd shut us down! *RANT OFF*
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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