Preplan a major incident in the WUI?

by Admin 13. March 2012 05:16

We are excited to publish another edition of FireIce Academy for our blog readers.

As we get prepared for fire season, we ask the question...  Can you preplan a major incident in the WUI(better known as the Wildland Urban Interface)?

The answer is absolutely!

We talk and train frequently on pre-planning of structures but how often do Engine Companies actually preplan for a Wildfire? Wildland Teams, HOTSHOTS, Forestry Divisions, etc. do this constantly but as the "First Responder" to this event are you really doing much more than putting the Wildland gear on the truck? WUI

How do you begin? This is not an exhaustive list and you have to tailor it to your region…

1) Begin at the station by preparing apparatus. Ensure that pumps work properly, tanks are full and extinguishment/retardant agents (FireIce) are ready to be deployed properly.

2) Check the Fire Weather Forecast for the day and print it out. It's good to keep a copy in the unit for later reference. It will also be of great benefit to be aware of any incoming weather fronts, which could drastically affect fire behavior.

3) Know your area! Know where homes are located including the most remote or isolated ones.

Locate natural breaks; lakes, streams, roadways, cleared land, and so on. This will aid in planning for safe staging, back-burning, and resource allocation.

Get accustomed to viewing your area on a topographic map or satellite images (Google Earth). Being able to make the connection between drawings and what is in front of you will allow you to get a better perspective on what is really going on and where you trouble spots are.

Know your water sources and how to access them BEFORE you need them. Plan for possible deployment of portable pumps or performing drafting operations.

Know where you will likely need to apply retardants or suppression agents (FireIce) and where you will need to station apparatus, in the event of an Interface fire threatening homes.

4) Get to know your State/Federal Wildland responders. Build a relationship with them now and learn what to expect from each another. Show up to the party with a coordinated game-plan.

5) Plan for "worst case scenario"! Just like with Hazardous Materials Response, look ahead and have a game plan for the "what if" situation. Know what resources you have available and build a relationship with them "before" the "Big One".

6) Make certain that your Wildland Gear is in order, shelters are in good repair, snacks and hydration are readily available and all crew members understand LCES (and how to communicate). Always remember your Standard Firefighting Orders and know what common the denominators are of Fire Behavior from tragic fires.

There are a multitude of other things that can be done to "Pre-Plan" for a Wildland Incident; however, if you aren't doing anything then this is a good start. Remember to "look to the sky", as well, when responding. Don't let a beautiful, sunny day fool you into a sense of security. Pay attention to tell-tale cloud formation, wind speed/direction, time of day, approaching fronts and topography.

Please add any additional tips you may have to Preplan for a Wildfire… Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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