Large incident wildfires are currently burning in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The high heat and tremendous winds are contributing to a rapid spread of these fires.
Hundreds of structures have been destroyed. Thousands of residents and visitors have been evacuated. And hundreds of wildland firefighters are battling these blazes.
The 2011 wildfire season burned 8.7 million acres - making it the 3rd most destructive wildfire season in the last 50 years. We all hope 2012 will not be a record-breaker. But instead of waiting to find out, prepare now by stocking up on essential wildland fire gear!
In Southern California the hottest part of summer has not arrived (yet!), but over the weekend it was dry and windy enough for a brush fire to kick up. In fact, I took the photo above from Santa Clarita - looking North. You can see the fire burning in the background, with Six Flags Magic Mountain and College of the Canyons in the foreground.
This wildland fire is in Hungry Valley - near the Grapevine portion of the I-5 freeway just north of Los Angeles. The fire quickly burned 1,500 acres and is currently 30% contained.
Here's a product recently released by Thermo Scientific, called TruNarc.
This handheld device produces a drug test result almost immediately!! TruNarc takes the time to process a drug test from weeks or months down to seconds! And the device does not need direct contact with narcotics, it can test a sample while its still packaged.
Quick reference guides for Safety, Weather, Operations and Size Up reports
Fire maps with Custom overlays, Severe weather warnings and NEXRAD radar
Until now most of this data was not available until you arrived on scene. But this app gives you vital information prior to arriving on scene. That way you have more time to think through firefighting strategies and consider what wildland fire gear you'll need.
At the NFPA Conference this year (retired) NYFD captain Jay Jonas delivered the feature presentation. It was his story of surviving the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center with his company of Ladder 6 and a few others.
It is a stunning story of bravery and heroism, and more than worth your viewing. These are links to the six YouTube videos which collectively re-tell the story:
For current evidence, see the Active Fire Map provided by the USDA Forest Service. As of today (6/12/12) there are 23 large incidents listed. The most significant of these:
the Whitewater-Baldy fire
in New Mexico
has burnt nearly 280,000 acres
is less than 40% contained
And further evidence can be found in the June 2012 National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook report from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). This report points primarily to the Southwest quarter of the US as being highly vulnerable to wildfire due to its "severe to extreme drought" conditions.
Read up and prepare adequately, you might be working some Overtime this summer!!
But most firefighters joined the Fire Department not for the gentleness of doctoring ... they joined for the action of firefighting!!
So, to rub a little salt in the wound, firefighters often grow weary of medical patients who become "frequent flyers." These are medical patients who call on the Department so many times they might as well get a loyalty card and a frequent flyer number!
Firefighters get frustrated that this takes away from their first love - firefighting. But sometimes their loud complaining can have unintended consequences - by leading Politicians and the Public to believe the EMS function should be privatized. And perhaps parts of it should, but keep in mind the EMS work brings in quite a lot of money to a Fire Department. It would be a tremendous loss of resources, and potentially jobs, if Fire Departments began to loose out on the EMS side.