1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber
    SamsonFCDES's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,708

    Default Wildfire Vs. Municipal fire

    We are just starting to see the end of the fireline on one of the most explosive wildfire seasons on record. After sweating out 100 gallons while fighting the wildfires this summer (I am from Montana) I found myself wondering...

    "I wonder who has the most demanding job, wildfire fire fighters, or structural fire fighters?"

    I am looking for opinions on which fire environment is most demanding on men and machines...

    Wildfire

    Vs.

    Municipal fire (Structures, vehciles, etc...)

    Both have their uniqe hazards, both have their distinct tools/machines, both have their strenght and endurance needs, both can test you physicaly and mentaly.

    But I still wonder, which is the most demanding?
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Why is it that every thread that has the abbreviation "vs." in it, is destined to be shut down by the WT?

    Don't even get started. This is a stupid thread that will only end up in an argument. Samson, whatever you are, you're the best.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    SamsonFCDES's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,708

    Default

    Ok, I guess I will throw out my opinion to get the dicussion rolling.

    IMO wildland fire fighting is more physicaly demanding then is structural fire fighting.

    I am lucky enough to get in on some of both. Wildfire however is much more of threat in Montana then is structure fire, at least in more rural areas like I live in (some say all of Montana is rural since we only have 800,000 people).

    To me it comes down to a boxing analogy.

    In wildfire, you are garanteed to go 10 rounds, or more, in nearly every fight you have. There are very few quick knockouts, you have to have the endurance to last, but you also need the strenght other wise you are not going to win no matter how hard you try. Endurance is more important then strenght, but you need the strenght in great quantities as well.1

    In structural fire, you have to go for the knock out blow, or you are on the defensive and you are sure to loose. Strenght is more important then endurance since you are usualy home in a few hours.

    I have gone to structure fires on days with the temp at 105. You sweat out literaly a gallon of fluid, but you are in and done with the fire usualy in an hours time. You can be out of your turnouts and recuping in a few hours time.

    I have been to widlfires with the temp at 105. You sweat out literaly gallons of fluid, but you can be out there for days (sometimes weeks). You drink fluid constantly, trying to get enough in so that you dont enter dehydration. You burn up a ridiculous amount of calories, especialy if you are diggin hot line with hand tools. You grab naps when you can on the line, you are so tired that you just lay down in the dirt and fall asleep. There is nothing like initial attack on a timber fire with a airborn crew (jumpers or helitak). You are dropped off with three days food and water, a few hand tools and you have to dig your way around a hot dirty fire.

    So to me its something like this:

    Structure Fire Physical demands:
    - High strenght capacity to handle heavy objects of all sorts, drag line, gear up, etc...
    - Endurance for up to 5 hours
    - Ability to cope with urban terrain, stairs, ladders, crawling, mazes, etc...

    Wildland Fire Physical Demands:
    - High strenght to handle heavy objects (tools, logs, etc...), drag line, gear up (40+ pound pack), etc...
    -Endurance for up to 24 hours in one shot, after which you will fall into a cycle of 12 on, 12 off, until the fire is contained and controlled, which in the western US has been known to take months.
    - Ability to cope with wildland terrain, hills, mountains, broken terrain (down timber, rocks, etc...), extream slopes, wide open plains (LOTS of hikeing involved), navigation, etc..


    To me wildland fire fighting is just a more physicaly demanding environment.

    One occasions I was dispatched to wildfires in western montana where I ended up doing a full 21 day deployment. We did 7 miles long hoselays, dug line, everything that wildland fire involves for 12 hours a day. We would sleep in our bags at cyote camps and eat MREs most of the time. It was late in the season so night temps were dropping down near or at freezeing. The smoke would settle in the camp when the temp dropped and humidity moved up. It was thick enough to realy start to bug you.

    I left for the fire weighting a fit 210. I came home 21 days later 25 pounds lighter and with pneumonia. I learned a valuable leasson about suspenders tht trip, never leave home without them.

    Structure fire has never been that brutal to me. I have been drained to a considerable extent by a structure call, but I have never been as completely wiped out both mentaly and physcialy as I have been at a larger wildfire incident.

    I should say that I realy love a SMALL wildfire, on grass lands. Very Very enjoyable fire environment. Pump and Roll with the brush trucks, cold gatoraid, sandwhiches, and you are back home in a few hours. My favorite kind of fire.

    While some structure fires are similar in duration, I dont enjoy those becuase usualy somebody is loosing their most prized possesions.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    SamsonFCDES's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,708

    Default

    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Why is it that every thread that has the abbreviation "vs." in it, is destined to be shut down by the WT?

    Don't even get started. This is a stupid thread that will only end up in an argument. Samson, whatever you are, you're the best.


    So kind of you to grant me such high praise!

    Truely appreciaed.

    Just one question, why do you bother to even post on a "stupid thread"?

    Thanks again for the compliment!

    Oh, and lighten up a bit will you, your going to give yourself a ulcer.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  5. #5
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Smile Well...........

    My wildland fire experience is only in east coast forest/brush areas, but I would think the duration of wildland fires would make that a tougher job. Most building fires, even the spectacular "Stop the Presses" kind, are usually totally finished in a 24 hr shift (I know, George, except for investigations). Wildland can go on for weeks, even here in the east we have had a few deep seated fires that lasted almost 30 days. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    mcaldwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Panorama, British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    3,022

    Default

    At the risk of inflaming George a little more, I would have to weigh in on the side the Wildland FF. We are in an interface area, and split our call volume pretty evenly between the two types, and nothing drains a crew like a day on a wildfire.

    Not to mention your safety zones on a wildfire can change or disappear in a hurry as well. The outside of the building on the other hand, is almost always where you last left it.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    PAVolunteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    1,139

    Default

    Without a doubt, forest/mountain/wildland fires are much more physically demanding. I've fought exactly one mountain fire ... and I hope it is my last. I'll just say that, until that fire, I thought I was in shape.

    Stay Safe

  8. #8
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Talking

    Originally posted by PAVolunteer
    Without a doubt, forest/mountain/wildland fires are much more physically demanding. I've fought exactly one mountain fire ... and I hope it is my last. I'll just say that, until that fire, I thought I was in shape.

    Stay Safe
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    SamsonFCDES's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,708

    Default

    Thanks for keeping it civil. See George, we are a mature bunch here...

    I think what realy defines the fitness differental is the physical tests for each respective realm of FF.

    Witht the structural test, if you are not done in <10 minutes you are not going to be done.

    With Wildland FF, you are garanteed at around 40 minutes of physical exertion for just the basic test. If you get into the Jumpers realm, well, lets just say that 110 pounds is more then most folks care to haul for very far.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  10. #10
    Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    New York, USA
    Posts
    75

    Default

    I think reading this thread is demanding. No honestly, each separate entity has it's own physical demands and expectations. I find it difficult to measure one against the other.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Thanks for keeping it civil. See George, we are a mature bunch here...
    Give it time...

  12. #12
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Talking

    Here...let me heat things up a bit. George is right...there will be no "winner" in this debate.

    Which is more demanding? Consider the fact that wildland firefighters are required to complete the "pack test"...to prove they can withstand the demands of the job. No red card...no play with fire.

    It also depends on which job you might be performing. Clearly, the crews building miles of fireline with nothing but shovels, pulaskis, saws and pure sweat....would argue that their role is certainly more physically demanding. They perform this function day in, day out...for two, sometimes three weeks at a time. When you're working a fire that is measured in square miles...rather than square feet, and hiking terrain that is more suitable for mountain goats...that's pretty extraordinary.

    On the other hand...carrying hose packs, SCBAs and other equipment up the stairways of multi-story buildings..., battling the fire in extreme environments...picking up, then possibly heading to another assignment...can be pretty physically demanding too.

    Each job has it's own stressful, physical demands. You can make a case for each side. Throw in the fact that wildland fires are seasonal...while structural firefighting is year round......and the balance tips towards the latter. But, then again, you don't have multiple alarm fires everyday either.

    Different beasts....different burdens. My conclusion? The wives and husbands, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers...have the most demanding job. Worrying about us!

    Keep it civil people.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  13. #13
    Forum Member
    Smoke20286's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    873

    Default

    Actually I have no problem with this thread. regardless of which is harder, and I do think wildland firefighting is harder because of longer time in the fire area. I wouldn't want to be a wildland firefighter for love or money. We as structural firefighters are neither properly trained, nor have the proper equipment to fight them. Not to mention they are downright scarey
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register