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Posts tagged as “wildfires”

Idaho Weekly Briefing – July 23

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 9. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Wildfires have started to gain traction in the summer heat, as smoke from central Washington began to drift over parts of northern Idaho. Elsewhere, reports on Medicaid and schools may have potential to affect debates on those subjects; this was the week the Medicaid expansion proposal formally qualified (at the secretary of state’s office) for the November ballot.

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on minerals in the United States that are critical to our economy and national security, Senator Jim Risch spoke about Idaho’s significant contributions to mining and the faults in our current permitting process that need reform. President and CEO of Midas Gold Idaho, Laurel Sayer, was a witness at the hearing and answered questions from the Senate panel on her experience with the Stibnite Gold Project in Valley County.

The office of Secretary of State Lawrence Denney on July 17 officially certified the petition signatures submitted by Idahoans for Healthcare to qualify Medicaid expansion as a ballot measure this November. If passed, expanding Medicaid will provide healthcare for the 62,000 Idahoans who fall into the state’s healthcare coverage gap.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent in June, continuing at or below 3 percent for the 10th consecutive month. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – continued to increase, gaining 971 people from May to June for a total of 851,599.

A federal grand jury indicted thirteen members and associates of the Aryan Knights and Severely Violent Criminals gangs for crimes including drug distribution, conspiracy, and unlawful possession of firearms, U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis announced. The charges stem from an investigation by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force.

The Idaho Department of Lands will be offering most of its remaining residential lake lots for auction in the next six years, along with some new unleased lots on Cougar Island and Pilgrim Cove at Payette Lake.

A technical hearing regarding the proposed merger of Avista and Hydro One has been postponed.

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill introduced by Senators Jim Risch and Gary Peters (D-MI) to help small businesses protect their intellectual property by improving education on obtaining and protecting patents.

IMAGE A string of fires erupted in south-central Idaho last week, much of it on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Here BLM workers are shutting down of the after effects of one of the burns in the Magic Valley. (photo/Bureau of Land Management)
 

Fire lingo

From a report by the Idaho Department of Lands, written by information officer Sharla Arledge, explaining some of the terminology used in wildfire reports.

As a new PIO to the fire world I know there is a lot of terminology the average person isn’t familiar with. With this severe fire season we are talking a lot about Incident Management Teams. The question has come up, what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 fire teams.

I thought it might be helpful to have an explanation of Incident Management Teams.

What is an Incident Management Team?

An incident management team is a small group of people fire management professionals specially trained and experienced in managing complex emergency fire situations. It is a tool to help fire protection agency manage fire situations that exceed their resources.

An incident management team is supervised by an Incident Commander that oversees specialists with expertise in operations, logistics, plans and finance and administration. Type 1 or 2 teams are commonly comprised of qualified individuals from various state and federal agencies. Type 3 teams are usually composed of individuals from other units within the protection agencies and from units of other agencies in the local area.

Teams are classified as Type 1, 2 or 3 based on the complexity of fires they are qualified to manage. A couple of differences between a Type 1 and Type 2 team is the complexity of the fire and the number of personnel. Type 1 teams handle the most complex fires and operation personnel often exceed 500 people and total people on the incident usually exceed 1,000.

When is a team needed?

An incident management team is assigned to relieve a wildfire agency that no longer has the resources to effectively manage the local fire situation. Examples would be:

· When a single large fire reaches a level of complexity that exceeds the experience or resources of the unit(s) fighting the fire.

· When a large number of fires start in a short period of time causing an excessive initial attack workload.

The protection agency requests the assignment of a team. The requests are driven not only by the fire situation and resource availability, but also what weather and burning conditions are expected in the future.

When a team is activated and assembles on scene it is fully briefed on the fire situation and the risks and suppression objectives by the protection agency. After the briefing the team assumes management responsibility for the fire(s). This allows the local protection agency to replenish its resources and focus them on the initial attack responsibilities elsewhere.

The team operates under the direction of an employee of the agency on whose protection the fire occurs. This employee is called the Line Officer. The Line Officer ensures the team manages the fire in an economical manner with safety for the public and fire personnel always being the first priority.

The cost of suppression increases substantially anytime a team is assigned, especially a Type 1 or 2 team. This is because of the large amount of equipment and supplies needed to support the personnel and resources assigned to a large fire.

I hope you find this helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

First Take

The Los Angeles Times today runs a fine scene-setting story from inside the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise, as tension slowly rises and staff look closely at the development of wildfires around the west. It reports: "On this morning, the picture isn't pretty. It's ominous in a hold-on-to-your-seat way that casts a pall over two dozen fire analysts, meteorologists and forest experts. They see a growing scourge of fierce yellow and red dots, each representing a new fire, and they furrow their brows." At the moment, most of the fires are in Alaska and California. But that will change. (photo/BLM, as used in the LA Times)

Eugene has spent a long time working on a replacement for its old and somewhat revered Civic Stadium - it has routinely provided front page headlines for months. Now, yesterday, it burned down, a total loss. The stadium had been run by Eugene city and the local school district; a private local alliance planned to renovate it. Eugene is in shock.

First Take

One of our writers here recently made the case that Boise State University President Bob Kustra is the most consequential university president Idaho has ever had; and a good case can be made to that effect. A good case can be made too that Elson Floyd of Washington State University was headed on that kind of track for his institution. In his time as president, WSU moved toward developing the state's second medical school and made major expansions in other disciplines and in geographic places around the state. Floyd, who died June 20 only days after revelation that he had cancer, was a major figure in the state and becoming more so. He will be harder than most to replace.

The Northwest has been remarkably lucky so far in this fire season, but remember that with the arrival of July we'll be heading into the period most typical for bad fires. if you check on the National Interagency Fire Center reports, you'll find that the one part of the country with really bad fires so far is Alaska (four fires of more than 7,000 acres each, plus a number of smaller instances). The next hardest-hit state are Arizona and California, but those at relatively modest levels, so far. But with hot and sunny weather, no precipitation on the horizon at all, a lot of fire suppression specialists are doubtless concerned. The coming of 4th of July fireworks no doubt is putting them on edge too, with the message about to go out: Let's be careful out there.