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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Are wildland fires dangerous?

    Ok, these Jr threads are getting out of hand, I am now finding that apparently many departments that do not allow Jr's to fight structure fires, let them fight wildland fires. This just fits in with an attitude I have run across fairly frequently that wildland fires are not really dangerous. I've seen departments that let the rookies take the brush truck alone that would never do the same with a structure fire. Now I find out some departments let kids fight wildland fires.

    I don't want this to be a structure vs wildland thing, simply trying to educate those that seem to think wildland is just a "training fire". Wildland fires are not a joke, they will kill you just as dead as a burning building.

    I know, you just respond to grass fires, your fires don't kill people. Remember the common denominators of fatality fires:

    small fires or isolated parts of larger fires
    innocent appearance prior to a flare up, and fatalities have occured during mop up
    flare ups generally occur in deceptively light fuels (grass, brush)
    fires run uphill suprisingly fast in chimneys, gullies and steep slopes.

    Sound familiar?


    Only listing those fires that resulted in 3 or more fatalities, only deaths following a burn over, no vehicle accidents or other hazards.


    1910 The Big Burn, ID: 78 firefighters killed.

    1926 Kings canyon fire, Toiyabe NF, CA: 5 firefighters killed

    1931 Coffee Mill fire, Mariposa Co, CA: 3 firefighters killed

    1933 Griffith Park fire, Los Angeles, CA: 25 firefighters killed

    1936 Chatsworth, NJ: 5 firefighters killed

    1937 Blackwater fire, Shoshone NF, WY: 15 firefighters killed

    1938 Pepper Run fire, PA: 8 firefighters killed

    1939 Rock Creek fire, Toiyabe NF, CA: 5 firefighters killed

    1943 Hauser Creek fire, Cleveland NF, CA: 11 firefighters killed

    1949 Mann Gulch fire, Helena NF, MT: 13 firefighters killed

    1950 Pelitor fire, San Luis Obispo Co, CA: 4 firefighters killed

    1953 Rattlesnake fire, Mendocino NF, CA: 15 firefighters killed

    1954 Tunnel No 6 fire, Tahoe NF, CA: 3 firefighters killed

    1954 Gap Creek, TN: 3 firefighters killed

    1955 Hacienda, CA: 5 firefighters killed

    1956 Inaja fire, Cleveland NF, CA: 11 firefighters killed

    1959 Decker fire, Cleveland NF, CA: 6 firefighters killed

    1962 Timberlodge fire, Sierra NF, CA: 4 firefighters killed

    1965 Fairview Hollow, KY: 3 firefighters killed

    1966 Loop fire, Angeles NF, CA: 12 firefighters killed

    1968 Canyon fire, Angeles NF, CA: 8 firefighters killed

    1971 Romero fire, Los Padres NF, CA: 4 firefighters killed

    1976 Battlement Creek fire, Grand Junction, CO: 3 firefighters killed

    1977 Cart Creek fire, Ashley NF, UT: 3 firefighters killed

    1977 Bass River, NJ: 4 firefighters killed

    1977 Honda Canyon fire, Vandenberg AFB, CA: 3 firefighters killed

    1979 Spanish Ranch fire, San Luis Obispo Co, CA: 4 firefighters killed

    1990 Dude fire, Tonto NF, AZ: 6 firefighters killed

    1994 South Canyon fire, Glenwood Springs, CO: 14 firefighters killed

    1998 Linton, Austraila: 5 firefighters killed

    2001 30 mile fire, Wenatchee NF, WA: 4 firefighters killed

    2005 Catalonia Provence, Spain: 11 firefighters killed

    2006 Esperanza fire, Riverside Co, CA: 5 firefighters killed


    RIP



    All fires are dangerous, treat them with the respect they deserve.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 04-26-2007 at 12:49 AM. Reason: spelling & grammar


  2. #2
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    As soon as I read the post, I searched and was about to post the same list you did.
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    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member Bushwhacker's Avatar
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    Any person regardless of age, with proper knowledge can fight fire. There are limits on age as far as certification, yes, and they are there for a reason. But what Knowledge able department, allows rookies to drive Brush units? Severly understaffed, maybe then, but for the majority of them they are usally vets.

    Define "fight" are they IA? Mop-up? Line Layers? Just because they show up on scene doesn't mean they are IA, maybe they are runners, or water bottle jockeys.

    As far as the "kids" fighting grass fires, her is a peice of info for you, one of our CAT(County Assit. Team) strike team leaders was IA'n Fires on a department at age 13. And is now a DNRC Trainer, Engine contractor, and a Vol. for the same department. Forgive me for using this stero type, The big city boys are scared ****-less of the fact that in Rural america, people under 18 are FF. Well here is the cold truth, they are some of the best out there, and they love what they do.

    Some do it because they have to, because there is no one else out there that can, or will. I will not agrue the age thing, I have been there done that, the Big city feller's will have to turn there backs, because it happens and will continue to happen. Like it or not. Liabilty is a **** word, and it is too over used.

    One more thing for the age thing, at age 12-13 I began Fighting Wildland fires, I am a current Captin, and am dawm proud that I have more working experince than some people twice my age.

    Sorry for the rambiling.

  4. #4
    35monroeffemt
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    Default Hmmm

    Never fought a wildland fire in Michigan but here is what I always told by a buddy that went US Fire Service in Florida. Wildland fires are at least 3 times the size of a normal structure fire and you usually have half the water source. When the pipe runs dry there is no hitting a plug, or bringing in another engine or tanker. Also if the fire decides to eat you, there is no just getting out, there is NO way out.

    No Thank You I'll stick with my structure fires.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 35monroeffemt View Post
    Never fought a wildland fire in Michigan but here is what I always told by a buddy that went US Fire Service in Florida. Wildland fires are at least 3 times the size of a normal structure fire and you usually have half the water source. When the pipe runs dry there is no hitting a plug, or bringing in another engine or tanker. Also if the fire decides to eat you, there is no just getting out, there is NO way out.

    No Thank You I'll stick with my structure fires.

    Interesting you bring up Michigan, most people think big wildfires in Michigan?




    Title: The Mack Lake fire.

    Author: Simard, Albert J.; Haines, Donald A.; Blank, Richard W.; Frost, John S.

    Date: 1983

    Source: General Technical Report NC-83. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station

    Station ID: GTR-NC-83

    Description: Describes the Mack Lake Fire near Mio, Michigan. Few documented wildfires have exceeded its average spread rate (2 mi/h) and energy release rate (8,800 Btu/ft/sec). The extreme behavior resulted from high winds, low humidity, low fuel moisture and jack pine fuels. Horizontal roll vortices may have contributed to the death of one firefighter.

    Key Words: fire behavior, crown fires, jack pine, weather, fuels, horizontal roll vortices




    I'm not touching the Jr's thing.

  6. #6
    35monroeffemt
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    Interesting NonSurfinCaFF Never had heard anything about that. Might be because I was born in 86 so I missed out on that. Thanks for the insight. I guess up north where we have the large forests could go up, I just never have heard of any major problems of the sort. Really could be a possibility: the DNR does a really good job of prevention and monitoring so that probably helps quite a bit.

  7. #7
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    The State of Connecticut Dept. of Labor issued revised guidance last fall for Under-18 y/o can do with fire departments.

    Overall they didn't do a bad job -- they tightened some stuff up, they loosened some other restrictions, a lot was what was already in place.

    The one that really strikes me as either a) Bureaucrat or more likely b) FD input from the more urbanized "center" of the state is:


    All cadets under 18 are prohibited from:
    2. performing interior fire suppression in structures or vehicles or in wildland fires, except grass fires;


    I know they try to keep the definitions relatively simple. But that makes me cringe -- a typical "good" grass fire in my area will be hotter and faster moving then a typical "good" woods fire. The forest fire is predominantly duff and sparse, woody brush. Hazards to watch out for with forest fires in my area -- the two big ones that come to mind are punky trees that have caught fire and approaching through heavy brush patches that would limit egress if stuff hit the fan -- are also be found at a "grass" field fire in my state were fields & forests are heavily inter-mixed.

    It's also tough to think of a concise way to phrase an alternative, but my guess is the stuff we're truly worried about is erratic or explosive fire behavior and for my area, that correlates well with Class 4 (Very High) or Class 5 days and/or when Red Flag Warnings are up -- a typical year has Class 4 from none to three days, and Red Flags maybe 7 days.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190 View Post

    All cadets under 18 are prohibited from:
    2. performing interior fire suppression in structures or vehicles or in wildland fires, except grass fires
    In strict legalese that sentence seems broken to me, but I am not a lawyer and it is nearing the end of my 12 hour overnight shift, so if I make little or no sense, just skip over me here.

    I think we all agree that we know what they're trying to say, but the way I read that sentence, they are listing specific things separated by the word "or". There are two ways this could be parsed. If they didn't mean to use the word "interior" specific to structures, that means that:

    All cadets under 18 are prohibited from performing interior fire suppression in...
    (a) ...structures OR
    (b) ...vehicles (but it is OK to do exterior, which is how we almost always do these anyway) OR
    (c) ...in wildland fires ("in in"? I don't think there is such a thing as "interior" on wildland, so all wildland fires must be OK)

    If they did mean to use the word "interior" specific to structures, that means that:

    All cadets under 18 are prohibited from...
    (a) ...performing interior fire suppression in structures OR
    (b) ...vehicles ("prohibited from vehicles", guess they can't ride along) OR
    (c) ...in wildland fires ("in in" again. But I see merit in keeping cadets - as well as the rest of the crews - "from in wildland fires" )

    I'm just being a smartass. Sorry Dal. Blame it on the night shift.
    Last edited by ElectricHoser; 04-26-2007 at 07:45 AM.
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  9. #9
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    I think there is probably a vast difference in definition when it comes to "wildland fires" around the country. Around here, a wildland fire is burning leaves and small underbrush in the woods (they are called brush fires here, not grass fires). Most campfires are more dangerous. The major concerns are personal hydration and watching your step. This is allowed by the state law and it is an amazing help. Our Explorers work there buts off at brush fires.
    Last edited by nmfire; 04-26-2007 at 07:56 AM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  10. #10
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    he severity of the fire will determine if our juniors operate it. Most of our brush and woods fires are slow movers in light and meduim fuels. Juniors will be assigned to work on the head of these fires under supervision at the discression of the IC.

    If it is a faster moving fire in heavier fuels, or severe wind conditions are present of fires with lighter fuels, juniors will not be assigned to direct fire attack at the head. They will be assigned to work the flanks or rear, or be assigned support duties. After the main body of fire has been knocked down, they may be assigned mop-up duties on the head.

    Wildfires are very dangerous. We use the same common sense on them as we do on juniors and structure fires.

  11. #11
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    This is allowed by the state law and it is an amazing help

    Not if you follow the letter of the law as it was interpreted officially by the State DOL last October ( http://www.ct.gov/cfpc/lib/cfpc/Guid...r_Minor_FF.pdf ).

    Stupid as it is since like I said, grass fires are more dangerous then the forest duff fire's NM's describing. Of course if you have a newer reference that DOL pulled their head out of their butt on the issue I'd love to see it NM!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhacker View Post
    Any person regardless of age, with proper knowledge can fight fire. There are limits on age as far as certification, yes, and they are there for a reason. But what Knowledge able department, allows rookies to drive Brush units? Severly understaffed, maybe then, but for the majority of them they are usally vets.

    Define "fight" are they IA? Mop-up? Line Layers? Just because they show up on scene doesn't mean they are IA, maybe they are runners, or water bottle jockeys.

    As far as the "kids" fighting grass fires, her is a peice of info for you, one of our CAT(County Assit. Team) strike team leaders was IA'n Fires on a department at age 13. And is now a DNRC Trainer, Engine contractor, and a Vol. for the same department. Forgive me for using this stero type, The big city boys are scared ****-less of the fact that in Rural america, people under 18 are FF. Well here is the cold truth, they are some of the best out there, and they love what they do.

    Some do it because they have to, because there is no one else out there that can, or will. I will not agrue the age thing, I have been there done that, the Big city feller's will have to turn there backs, because it happens and will continue to happen. Like it or not. Liabilty is a **** word, and it is too over used.

    One more thing for the age thing, at age 12-13 I began Fighting Wildland fires, I am a current Captin, and am dawm proud that I have more working experince than some people twice my age.

    Sorry for the rambiling.
    Oh my god... another hot trotter in wildland form?
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  13. #13
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    Thanks CaptainGonzo, I now have to clean my computer screen off from laughing so hard.

    T.J.

  14. #14
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    LA just rember a " slow moving fire can change in a hurry,

  15. #15
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    The safety cautions that have been passed out here are very valid. I've seen (as a far away observer) how fast a brush fire can move, under the right conditions. For the small number that I've worked directly, we never had explorers, but NM says it best:

    Our Explorers work there buts off at brush fires.
    I know we worked ours off each time. The suppression part was easy, its the dang overhaul that SUCKS! All that frig'n dig'n and scrap'n to get into the underbrush... thats for the birds. LOL
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    I think there is probably a vast difference in definition when it comes to "wildland fires" around the country. Around here, a wildland fire is burning leaves and small underbrush in the woods (they are called brush fires here, not grass fires). Most campfires are more dangerous. The major concerns are personal hydration and watching your step. This is allowed by the state law and it is an amazing help. Our Explorers work there buts off at brush fires.
    Please correct me if I am mistaken, but the last I checked the Boy Scouts of American do not allow live fire training for any of their members.

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    All that frig'n dig'n and scrap'n to get into the underbrush... thats for the birds. LOL

    Dal goes over to the truck, finds a nice leaky old-style Indian Can, brings over the fifty pound bastard to Malahat, "Well, since ya don't like dig'n and scrap'n ya can get to pump'n." :evil:

    ============

    In all seriousness...
    LA just rember a " slow moving fire can change in a hurry

    It can be true, but you need to know your own local conditions. There's many (most) times fires, in my part of the country (not familiar with Louisana) are slow and will stay slow.

    What does worry me is it's not something we train on much as a region, and severe fire conditions don't occur frequently or last very long when they do. Yet peppered throughout the region are memorials to firefighters who were killed in the 1930s-1950s by forest fires, and other spots I know are unmarked.

    For many, many years I myself tended to dismiss most of our fires as no biggie. I've gotten enough experience, and I've seen somethings when still alone scouting a fire, to have a lot more respect for wildfires in Southern New England. 99% of the woods fires (as opposed to field/brush) will be slow moving affairs, or even if going at a pretty good clip aren't that dangerous.

    But you need to still recognize when you're in hazardous places and weather and fuel conditions are favorable to fast development or erratic behavior.

    But that has nothing to do with youth -- an 18 y/o or 21 y/o or 40 y/o who doesn't have the experience or training is in just as much danger as a 16 y/o. If their officers don't recognize that 1-in-a-1000 bad situation out here and puts his guys in the path of the fire, the fire's not going to care how old they are.

  18. #18
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireDawgEMT22 View Post
    Please correct me if I am mistaken, but the last I checked the Boy Scouts of American do not allow live fire training for any of their members.
    I think you're mistaken.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  19. #19
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    How is this even an issue?

    A fire in a very large area, ladder fuels, spurratic/unstable/gusting winds moving fire at a pace of up to 60+ MPH, little to no water, fire moving faster uphill where personnel move slower.....oh yeah much safer environment.

    NO place for an untrained person regardless of age.


    Get the picture?




    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 04-26-2007 at 09:15 PM.

  20. #20
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    just remember a structure fire is a fire in a box its not going any were but a wildland fire is outside and can go anywere
    www.wildlandfire.com
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