An Airtanker drops fire retardant on a wildfire. (USFS Photo)
Imagine if a hostile country sent an Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS, otherwise known as a drone, to disturb the efforts of firefighters during a catastrophic wildfire. The confusion that might ensue could cause loss of life and property as flames jump fire lines simply because resources have been diverted or grounded to identify and remove the UAS.
But these threats aren’t coming from an enemy state. They are being flown by our own citizens and impeding the job of our firefighters. This isn’t a script for a Hollywood film. It’s really happening.
Recently, unauthorized drones disrupted wildfire operations in southern California twice in one week. Because of these drones, Airtanker operations were suspended on both the Sterling Fire and Lake Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest. Read more »
Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, U.S. Forest Service (Courtesy Tim Palmer)
For the better part of a decade, Lincoln Bramwell spent summers fighting wildfires across the West for the U.S. Forest Service. But over the years he spent on the fireline, he began to see his job change in ways that felt more obvious and dangerous.
This is because Bramwell began to see more homes on mountain slopes and ridges. An increasing wildland-urban interface adds challenges further complicated by public demands that firefighters make heroic stands to save houses from approaching wildfires.
What struck Lincoln was how entire subdivisions rolled over the rough mountain landscape nestled into the forest and shielded from view from the main road. And not all of these homes looked new. In fact, from his observations, many seemed quite old. Read more »
The Tallac Hotshots are a valuable resource to the Lake Tahoe community by carrying out initial attack for wildfires that occur in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin. (U.S. Forest Service)
A group of 20 determined firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit completed a demanding and extensive certification process to become the first Interagency Hotshot Crew from Lake Tahoe. Formerly the Tallac Hand Crew, the Tallac Hotshots join an exclusive group of roughly 2,000 firefighters across the country.
“The certification of the Tallac Hotshots is a significant event for the Lake Tahoe Basin,” said Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson. “Fire suppression in the Basin is vital to our communities and it’s reassuring, particularly in light of the anticipated active fire season, to have such a key resource of well-trained and experienced firefighters in our area.” Read more »
Michaela Hall, a Job Corps alumna, challenged herself to learn firefighting skills as part of the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew, stationed at Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center on the Davidson River on the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. (U.S. Forest Service)
For the second time, I spilled burn mix on my clothing as I reached to replace a drip torch, a wildland firefighting tool used to ignite fires for controlled burns.
After three days of working with the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew, I was getting used to how things worked – except for the drip torch.
I’d spent the first seven years of my career buried behind papers and computers in the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. When I heard of a job to improve firefighting training skills for Job Corps students, I jumped on it. As a Job Corps alumna, and someone who’s still passionate about the program, I felt that I was the perfect candidate. Read more »
The Wildland Firefighters Monument in Boise, Idaho, includes three eight-foot bronze firefighters standing in silent testimony to hard-working men and women on the fireline. A waterfall built by a team of volunteers showcases native rock gathered from a local quarry by the Boise Smokejumpers. (U.S. Forest Service)
This week the nation stops to remember historic losses in the wildland firefighter community as we pay homage to the 14 lives lost in the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado, the 19 lives lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona last year and the others who have lost their lives serving the public.
From June 30 to July 6, 2014, the interagency wildland fire management community is honoring all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty by participating in a Week to Remember, Reflect, and Learn. Read more »
Shyh-Chin Chen is a research meteorologist for the Pacific Southwest Research Station in California. Having experienced wildland fire literally on his home’s doorstep at least several times during the last decade, he has a passion for developing new weather forecasting tools to help firefighters predict and combat fires more effectively. Here he is shown with the Firebuster web tool. (U.S. Forest Service)
Imagine a research meteorologist focused on developing the kind of detailed weather forecasts that firefighters need to fight wildland fires. Accurate, timely information is critical.
Then understand that he has faced wildland fire on his doorstep in Ramona, Calif., near San Diego at least three times since 2003.
Those experiences fuel the passion that Shyh-Chin Chen brings to his work to protect human life and property. Read more »