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  1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Default Arkansas Wildfire News

    Arkansas' firefighting changing with times
    LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The Arkansas Forestry Commission once had
    more help from corporate timberland owners to fight fires. But
    private personnel and equipment have dropped off in recent years
    and other developments have changed how the state fights fires.
    Currently, Arkansas is in a drought. The last quarter of 2005
    was the state's driest on record and the state had 2,216 fires that
    burned 34,396 acres last year, not an unusually large number. But
    the dry conditions could turn 2006 into a banner year for fires.
    As of Jan. 16, more acres had burned - 9,016 - than during all
    of the previous 10 Januarys.
    The forestry commission currently has 98 fire plows, 15
    fire-detection planes and a contract fleet of four firefighting air
    tankers. Western Pilot Service of Phoenix provides the state with
    year-round, standby firefighting protection.
    Seventeen years ago, the commission also could count on help
    from another 65 fire plows and a helicopter from the
    private-sector.
    International Paper Co., which owns 690,000 acres of Arkansas
    timberland, no longer operates firefighting equipment. Instead, it
    relies on the forestry commission. Spokeswoman Amy Sawyer says that
    like all private timberland owners, International Paper pays an
    annual forest-fire-protection tax of 15 cents per acre.
    El Dorado-based Deltic Timber Corp., which owns almost 429,000
    acres of Arkansas timberland, fights fires on its property, says
    Tim Zorsch, general manager of woodlands. Deltic has seven crawler
    tractors and about 20 foresters and technicians who are prepared to
    fight fires.
    "We don't wait for the state. If we have fire on our land,
    we're going to it," Zorsch says.
    Weyerhaeuser Co., which owns 727,000 acres of Arkansas
    timberland, has bulldozers and a helicopter to fight forest fires,
    says Rhonda Hunter, the company's Arkansas and Oklahoma timberlands
    manager. Also, the company maintains ponds to make sure that it has
    water nearby to fight fires.
    University of Georgia professor Michael Clutter says the trend
    among forest-products companies is to sell land to timber
    investment management organizations. Clutter says the trend is not
    as evident in Arkansas, but he cites International Paper's
    announcement last summer that it might sell or spin off some or all
    of its Arkansas timberland.
    When forest-products companies sell timberland, the land often
    goes to several owners, many of whom begin developing the land,
    introducing greater opportunities for fires to break out, says Don
    Artley, national fire director for the National Association of
    State Foresters.
    "You have to go in and fight the fire where it is because
    you're trying to protect all these improvements," Artley says.
    Suburban sprawl has taken over thousands of formerly forested
    lands near Little Rock and Hot Springs and throughout Northwest
    Arkansas.
    In response, the forestry commission participates in FireWise,
    an effort among government agencies and homeowners to promote fire
    safety. Arkansas leads the nation in the number of certified
    "Fire-Wise Communities."
    The U.S. Forest Service is Arkansas' largest landowner with 2.6
    million acres. The federal agency has 18 dozers, 18 "brush
    trucks" and four heavy air tankers in Arkansas and can put from
    200 to 500 firefighters into service.
    Traditionally, the Forest Service has tried to reach fires
    quickly and control them while they are still small. But that
    policy has shifted to a renewed emphasis on firefighter safety and
    prescribed, or controlled, burns as a way to reduce the risk of
    catastrophic fires.
    Arkansas is now a leader in prescribed burns, says Scott Simon,
    state director of The Nature Conservancy.
    "State agencies and the national forests prescribe burn in
    excess of 200,000 acres a year with the support of the conservation
    community," he says.
    Advances in communication equipment, weather forecasting and
    satellite technology have also changed firefighting in the state.
    Planes have replaced fire towers as detection tools. The forestry
    commission uses a computer-aided dispatch system at Malvern that
    pinpoints the location of wildfires, enabling dispatchers to
    promptly deploy crews. The Geographic Information System provides
    maps of highways, vegetation type and land ownership, aerial
    photographs, and information on airports and fire departments.

    (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    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


  2. #2
    firefighter7160
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default Im in Arkansas...

    This was in the paper here yeasterday. This state has had it coming for years. The volly's around here dont get training on fighting wildland fire's. They get a 8 hour class, and thats it. No hands on training. Most fire's are small, but the voll. dept's cant get at the fire. Our they just wait for forestry to get there. My dept. is the same. But after this year it wont be. Training Training Training. Thats all were doing now. We can not wait for forestry to show up. We have the tools, and the manpower, so we need to get out there and fight these fire's. I will say it has been a crazy year. Dry and hot. But its raining today. Hope to get 2 inchs. So just let this year be over. And start training for next year.

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