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Posts published in “Day: August 14, 2015”

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

A person - officials haven't yet released whether male or female, much less a name - was mowing a lawn on July 30, some miles east of Canyonville. He or she was doing this on one of the days when mowing was prohibited, but the moving in and of itself wasn't an unusual kind of activity, or something most people might reasonably assume would trigger a massive wildfire. Somehow, though, accidentally and inadvertently, that is what happened. The Stouts Creek fire, as it has been labeled, has become a big deal, involving upwards of 1,500 firefighters from across 23 states plus Canada, and whole platoons of equipment. The cost of fighting that fire has topped $22 million so far. The Oregon Forestry Department then added this: "Because of the [timing] violation, the individual may be liable for fire suppression costs and damages resulting from the fire." In other words, the rather petty offense of mowing a lawn during an hour of the day when it was supposed to be banned - mowing at 3 p.m. rather than 10 a.m., say - lands you a penalty of more than $22 million. Seems irrational. Failing to put out a campfire, which most of us know can lead to wildfires, ought to be in a different category than mowing a lawn. A fine? Okay. $22 million, which will never be paid? Someone's lost a sense of proportion there.