Thread: MEXICOS WILD FIRES Your opinion
05-11-2000, 10:43 PM #1Engine58Firehouse.com Guest
MEXICOS WILD FIRES Your opinion
Hello, I was wondering all your opinions on the Wildland Fires in New Mexico. Alot of people are blaming the government for Ignoring the Highwind warnings and Not to set the So Called "controlledBurn" I was on a Forum simliar to this one on AOL and Man I tell ya the people are NASTY I told them to stop blaming the government because thats not going to get us anywhere with the fire. I think after they get this thing controlled THEN worry about who's responsible etc..etc..etc.. BUT heres my opinion I think the weather was fine when they started the fire..BUT as the fire progressed the wind picked up and the fire took off on the firefighters. I mean Why Argue the government right away and the fires are still burning out of control. I say if you are so Damn concerned about the fire THEN ASK YOUR LOCAL FD IF YOU CAN VOLUNTEER! THAT IS MY OPINION ON THIS SITUATION.
"Looks Like you Gotcha Self a hot one First Time up Kid"
"EMTS DON'T DIE THEY JUST STABILIZE"
05-12-2000, 10:52 AM #2P BishopFirehouse.com Guest
Controlled burns are vital to our forest and rangeland health. The folks in New Mexicao doing the controlled burn were sent by the National Weather Service a forcast. It told them of the possibility of high winds and a very high Haines index. They cllaim they did not see this. People doing controlled burns have to be accountable to someone, before lighting a controled burn all information that you can possibly get about possible fire behavior, weather, manpower, backup manpower must be reviewed. If things don't fall together don't light the burn. It's that simple.
05-12-2000, 01:09 PM #3mtnfireguyFirehouse.com Guest
Everything possible is being done to fight the out of control fire. We have sent numerous crews from our state to assist not only at Los Alamos but at several other fires in NM.
The bottom line is fire management official chose to ignore a fire weather forecast and light the fire anyway. It will be interesting to see what comes out in the end. Right now there are 15,000+ people who have nothing to do but wonder why this happened.
Prescribed fire is an excellent tool, but you never ignore the weather folks because that is one thing that will bite you every time.
A controlled burn is very similar to a controlled fart - everything can turn to crap in a matter of seconds!
[This message has been edited by mtnfireguy (edited May 12, 2000).]
05-13-2000, 07:48 PM #4DDFirehouse.com Guest
Consider that it was the federal government. Most things that it does are disasters. Some just take longer to be recognized.
I wonder why people let brush grow so close to their homes. We have hardwood forests here and a lot of humidity. I keep a good clear zone between the woods and my home. Also no underbrush is allowed to grow in the woods anywhere close to the yard.
[This message has been edited by DD (edited May 13, 2000).]
05-14-2000, 11:39 PM #5Captain HickmanFirehouse.com Guest
Right now, I'd say the best opinion is now to have an opinion. I would say there will be a great deal of finger pointing in the near future. However someone had to have drawn up a burn plan and somehow things got messed up BIG TIME. Like Yellowstone, there will be a lot of s.....tuff happening after this incident.
05-15-2000, 10:00 AM #6monteFirehouse.com Guest
I agree with Capt. Hickman. The only opinion worth having right now is regarding what we do know. We know the fires are pushing the extreme edge of the yardstick, we know lots of human resources and equipment are committed to suppressing these fires, we know the federal government is spending tons of money to support the suppression effort, and we know they will be spending tons more to build new homes, rebuild communities, and pay for lots of therepy. We also know, they will act in the extreme; as has been done, to suspend all prescribed burning west of the 100th meridian, regardless if conditions are perfect for a well executed, and responsible prescribed fire. And to allow that one to occur, it will have to be approved by someone who doesn't know much to nothing about fire use anyway. We know they are on a head hunt. Someone will be exposed, and they will be held accountable, somehow ... an agency administrator is always good for a public hanging. We know they will stand fast on the federal fire policy and the need to increase burned acres. We know they will continue to fast track folks into prescribed fire and suppression positions, without concern for experience. We know they will continue to promote unqualified administrators into positions that have fire responsibilities, and we know they will continue to require some training for those same people and call it good. If you look at what we do know, I would say something like this was very predictable, as much as we hate to admit it, it will happen again. Not because we didn't study the problem of setting a risky fire, not because we didn't investigate the situation, and not because someone was held accountable. Mostly because we did not investigate the real problem and hold politically driven administrators and legislators accountable for poor policy and unreasonable expectations of the workforce. I'm not saying this justifies a bad decision, I am saying that we have been boxed in with so many restrictions and constraints, policy changes, mandates, and requirements, that it's diffult to make good decisions anymore. We write burn plans so we are solvent in court, but they become so restrictive, that sometimes the only time to burn is under risky conditions. No excuse for what happened, but I've been on the doing side of this issue for years, and it only gets worse.
[This message has been edited by monte (edited May 15, 2000).]
05-16-2000, 07:13 PM #7ff emt-p bleveFirehouse.com Guest
Plan all you want the New Mexico burn was a disaster waiting to happen any way.If it would been another lighting strike or a unknown cause the firefighters would been Hero"s now it like this one on all of our backs.To Blame is easy.Mother Nature is holding all the cards.She will not feel pressured to resign or step down.Hang in there it will be someone elses *** in ringer another time a another place. mother nature has a way of doing that to the best.
[This message has been edited by ff emt-p bleve (edited May 16, 2000).]
[This message has been edited by ff emt-p bleve (edited May 16, 2000).]
05-16-2000, 08:40 PM #8Ranger10Firehouse.com Guest
I have been involved in a few prescibed burns myself. When you have a burn planned, the first and LAST thing you do is check the weather forecast before lighting the match. The person responsible for approving the burn that day has done a huge diservice, to say the least, to the prescribe burn program for the whole country. I only hope the politicians don't have a knee-jerk reaction to this whole mess and make it next to impossible to conduct future burns.
05-18-2000, 10:55 AM #9monteFirehouse.com Guest
I am pretty interested in how detailed the investigation report will be. A large part of my career has been involved with prescribed fire, and I have to realize the old saying, "you had to be there to be a pert of it". It's difficult for us to second guess how decisions were made. First, I have heard the burn was planned at somewhere around 700 acres. That being the case, it was probably in pj (pinion juniper-grass/sage). What I know is, to be successful burning in that fuel type, you often need eye level winds of 25-30 mph. If this is true, and their analysis was accurate, this would be a very complex burn because you would need high winds, low humidities, and low fuel moistures. The burn could have been technically accurate. The location of the burn to other values would be another issue, and I wonder about contingency planning, pre-burn notifications, and a host of other pre-burn actions that would constitute a "go" decision. The political impacts from what happened will surely be negative for everyone's burn programs. Having lived all over the northwest and northern rockies, and fought fire throughout the US, I do believe prescribed burning is needed, and there is truely no adequate substitute for it for the majority of acres needing it.
05-19-2000, 02:55 PM #10Fireguy57Firehouse.com Guest
I recently heard an oxymoron about the Los Alamos fire:
It showed Smokey the Bear running from a burning forest throwing his forest-service-issue shovel behind, and carrying a Los Alamos city limit sign. The oxymoron here as you can immagine is "Controled Burn"!
05-24-2000, 04:52 PM #11Phil DanielsFirehouse.com Guest
The Cerro Grande fire was just another example of interface homeowners blaming other people for their loss. It is true that this fire was started by the federal government, and this will most likely be found to be negligent.
But what is a constant in most interface fire losses is the fact that fire resistive construction, defensible space and appropriate landscaping was not in place. Looking at the photos it is clear that some homes were "winners" and some (230 +/-) were "losers." As ff_emt-p_bleve said it "..was a disaster waiting to happen any way..."
05-25-2000, 10:13 AM #12monteFirehouse.com Guest
I think even we, as profesionals, are beginning to understand the "rest of the story". The most recent evidence suggests this: If houses and groups of homes (sub-divisions as an example) were properly constructed and layed out, the fire could be left to burn and the structures would survive in fine fiddle on their own. We have to be cognizent of some other factors that should change our (firefighters) perspective. That is, the popular 30' defensible space around structures is a myth. All it's good for is an open ally to run through to get the heck out. High radient heat loads from adjacent structures and mass ember transport causes the greatest number of structure starts than does fire spread from the wildland fire in a large high concentration urban setting.
06-05-2000, 08:07 AM #13tinnerFirehouse.com Guest
Perhaps the gov. is to blame. Has the National Fire Service people address this problem. If the timber is managed properly the risk lowers. But gov has restricted logging.
A more detailed commentary is at:
How can we find out if or when the NVFC has addressed this problem.
06-05-2000, 03:45 PM #14monteFirehouse.com Guest
This impression is a bit off center .... if you refer to government as fed and state, they both have different charters and do business differntly. The federal gov. is also a reactive bureaucracy. I know for a fact that the majority of timber sales in the northern rockies can't make it past the court injunctions. To the tune of several million board feet each year. Tied in court. Then there is political agendas like the most recent from the president to take land in contiguous 5,000 acre parcels and turn them into wilderness areas. Then there are the remaining lands that go through an agonizing public review process where this conservative organization tries to please everyone. Now what is left? Not much, and when you do something there, the constraints and restriction are so overwhelming it costs about 100 times the average to get a mediocre job done. So does this sound like an ad for the forestry profesion? Naw ... but it is the state of affairs we are in. Land managers can't manage, contractors bilk the homeowners, homeowners blame the land managers, and firefighters clean up the mess.
06-05-2000, 08:09 PM #15tinnerFirehouse.com Guest
OK, and I agree.
But shouldn't the fire service spokes people (NVFC) perhaps address this issue? And the problems it causes us. Are we to small to be heard or considered? I know it would be a monstrous challenge to get the politics out of it and look at the facts but has this ever been considered by the NVFC?
Maybe they have, after I posted that I noticed the link at the top of the page to email themand asked, but haven't recieved a reply yet.
Thanks for responding.
06-06-2000, 01:29 PM #16PAsquadbossFirehouse.com Guest
A big cluster F**k......miscommunication....it is a real shame that all that land is lost because of someone's arrogance....You would think after Storm Mt. we all would have learned
06-07-2000, 10:23 AM #17monteFirehouse.com Guest
It is an impossible task to remove politics from the equation. Remember from about 1910 through the early 1980's we told everyone we could stop the fires, prevent the fires, and fire was bad. As we learned that the entire western US and some places toward the east were fire dependent ecosystems; we realized they were going to burn regardless if we built home there or not. So we did build homes there, and low and behold, we have been having fires. Interestingly, I have seen some pictures of the Los Alamos fire and some the lost structures. The wildfire itself was predominantly an understory burn, with tree crowns intact and still green. The structures were burned to the ground. Meaning the wildland fuel burned as is has for the past several thousand years, and the structures that caught fire propogated others. I saw a picture of an asphalt roof that had a deep continuous layer of pine needles on it. The pine needles burned, incinerated, leaving the asphalt roof intact. That's the biology; the politics are, real estate sales for large subdivisions; UBC that are not written structure fire resistence from the outside, construction materials not promoted as fire resistent materials and included in subdivision covenants, planning boards promoting unrestarined growth to promote community economic health, insurance companies that make money on lost homes because they promote a higher sales of home protection insurance, people who believe that because there hasn't been a major fire in the area for 100 years it's an indication it won't burn (not), and then us ... we are still learning and trying to promote the smokey bear message while educating the public of the inevitability of fire occurring. I have no faith in politics to legislate the right thing, big money has always ruled, and will continue because that is how we are organized. We just take each success as it comes and try to learn from those. Eventually, local interest will build momentum and you will see positive changes a little at a time.
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