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September 28, 2006

More On Jumbo Jet Air Tankers And The Day Fire

Some good journalism by Stephanie Hoops of the Ventura County Star sheds further light on the money trail and politics surrounding the use of the tankers.

"The federal government has no contract with the DC-10's owner, and the Day fire is burning on federal property, so authorities had to rely on the state to arrange for the plane.

California has a "call-when-needed contract" with the plane's owner. It will pay for the drops made Sunday because the fire was headed toward state jurisdiction.

"We used it on federal land to keep it from burning down into populated communities," said Matt Streck, a California Department of Forestry spokesman.

For the federal government to utilize such jets in the future, the aircraft must be certified for use on national forest terrain, Mathes said.

The DC-10's owner, Victorville-based 10 Tanker Air Carrier, is working with the federal government to get clearance for use on federal lands, said Rick Hatton, a partner in the company.

"Only the state can call it up and pay for it, as it sits today," Hatton said Monday."

That's interesting, the CDF has a contract with the owners of the DC 10 and can order up the jet for fires on their turf OR to keep it from burning into their jurisdiction. The precedent has been set, the tanker has delivered a load over Fed. land so the liability issue has been overcome, it's simply a money issue.

My Thoughts On The Day Fire

The Day Fire has been burning since September 4th, cost $53 million and consumed 160,000 acres to date. OK guys it's time to put it out! Some of these fire crews have been on the line for more than 3 weeks and the longer they are there the greater chance someone will make a fatigue caused error that could lead to a disabling injury or fatality.

When I first read about this fire I figured it was typical slam dunk Los Padres affair where everyone goes home after a few days, clean up and get ready for the next fire! Then I read it was in "Wilderness".

I learned about "wilderness" fires from my cousin Mark who worked the Marble-Cone Fire in the Santa Lucia Range near Big Sur in 1977.
His crew was one of the first to arrive at the fire and as they prepared to deploy they were told to put away the chain saws.
Bulldozers or any other mechanical tools were not allowed on fires in "wilderness" designated areas. As a result a fire that could have been put down in a day or two went on to burn over 230,000 acres of pristine forest. I recall my cousin telling me how close they were to getting a handle on the fire in its early stages and if the dozers had been allowed in it would have confined to a couple of hundred acres! I never forgot his reaction and since then I have come to some personal conclusions about fire management in "wilderness" designated areas.

Now to the Day Fire. When I heard it was burning in "wilderness" I said to myself this was going to be a big one, I saw this coming, a built in reason for the Forest Service to pad the 2007 budget and give the Southern Region guys a fat overtime campaign. Yeah I said it, padding the budget.

I believe the command team looked at the map early on and saw no urban interface issues and determined they would stand back. Forest Service is famous for indirect firefighting and here they saw no immediate threat to any communities until it reached the coast some 30 miles to the West.
The fire has affected some outlaying ranches and cabins. One report I read this morning said fire crews protected over 700 such dwellings in the last 24 hours. The fire is approaching coastal communities and it's a now a beast, a beast that should have been exterminated in its infancy.

As I said earlier it's time to fight this fire. Where is that DC 10 air tanker we saw over the fire on TV over the weekend? $20,000 per hour to contract this tanker is not a lot of money when you have tired firefighters on the line for this long. Bring back that DC 10 and call over to Evergreen in Arizona and contract with that 747 air tanker outfit. Maybe they won't call them in because those weapons are too effective? These tools could have the effect of being true budget killers and that would be bad for business. a cynical view but one I hold.
I might even recommend replacing this incident command team with some fresh minds.

I'll post this disclaimer, I was trained by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the stated policies of my department was to aggressively fight fire. That's the point isn't it?

Update: I receive a very timely comment from Firebomber Publications, an outfit I had never heard of before they commented on my post. I guess I'm not the only one who wonders out loud why the DC 10 and 747 air tankers are sidelined when they are so badly needed.

September 22, 2006

Light Posting

My posting lately has been interupted due to time constraints. I have been busy developing a search marketing business so a lot of my free time has been compromised.

I invite visitors and surfers to take a look at a very nice firefighter blog, Hamptons Fire blog, the web's best definition of a personal firefighter site (blog) in my opinion.

My visitor log reveals a fair percentage of visitors here click over to my Firefigher Exchange blog where I have posted firefighter stories sent to me over the last 5 years. Some great stories there written by some very brave people!
I am not going away but I will be posting less often!

September 09, 2006

Five Years Post September 11, 2001


FDNY website Ground Zero photo gallery. (photo from site)

Steve Spak has a great website dedicated to the efforts of FDNY on September 11, 2001. He has authored a book titled "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" with numerous images of FDNY's Bravest at work on 9-11.

Deputy Chief F.D.N.Y.(ret.) Vincent Dunn, offers interesting and valuable insights into events surrounding the attack of September 11. Chief Dunn offers his assessment of why the World Trade Center buildings collapsed.

Chief Dunn offers if it's safer now for F.D.N.Y. first responders since that tragic day.

September 07, 2006

CDF Pilot and Chief Identified

Update to yesterdays post. SignonSanDiego writes;

"The crash of the OV-10 airtactical plane sparked a three-acre wildfire near where firefighters battled the other blaze in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, about 170 miles north of Los Angeles, said CDF spokeswoman Becki Redwine.

The plane, which was surveilling the fire for ground crews, had no communication just before the crash around 10:25 a.m., she said.

The victims were identified as George Willett, 52, a Hanford pilot contracted to help battle the fire, and CDF Battalion Chief Robert Paul Stone, 36, of Visalia."

Our sincerest condolences to the families of Chief Robert Paul Stone and pilot George Willett.

New Tallest Tree, Hyperian 378 Feet Tall

Chron's SFGate tells us today of a new "tallest tree".

"The Stratosphere Giant, the world's reigning tallest living tree, seems to have lost its title -- to not one but three contenders.

Like the 370-foot Giant, the three trees are coast redwoods. They were discovered this summer in Redwood National Park near Eureka by a team of California researchers who spend most of their free time bushwhacking through North Coast forests in search of taller and taller trees.

So far, the group has found about 135 redwoods that reach higher than 350 feet, said team member Chris Atkins, the man credited with finding the Stratosphere Giant in August 2000 in nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

The tallest of the three new finds, a redwood named Hyperion, measures 378.1 feet. Next in line, Helios, stands at 376.3 feet; Icarus, the third, reaches 371.2 feet..."

Record trees (From article)

  • Tallest living tree: Hyperion (coast redwood), 378.1 feet, Redwood National Park
  • Tallest recorded tree: Unnamed eucalyptus, 500-plus feet, recorded in 1872 in Australia
  • Most massive living tree: General Sherman (giant sequoia), estimated weight 4 million pounds, Sequoia National Park
  • Largest tree canopy: A great banyan in Calcutta's Indian Botanical Garden covers three acres.
  • Oldest living tree: Methuselah (Bristlecone pine), estimated 4,650 years old, California's White Mountains

My firefighting career was ended more or less by an injury incurred while attending to a fire in a virgin redwood stand in Santa Cruz County. If you have never walked in a virgin redwood forest you should put it on your life's list of things to do!

September 06, 2006

Wanna Read Something Scary

First responders will surely be called upon to rescue and aid those who fall victim to islamofacist terror. This essay helps to remind us the threat is not going away. Thought provoking and chilling.

CDF Pilot Dies In Crash

MotherLode.com reports that two C.D.F. Firefighters died in a plane crash while responding to a fire in the Sierra's East of Tulare California earlier today.

"Springville, CA -- Flags are at half mast at California Department of Forestry stations statewide as firefighters mourn the loss of two of their own.

San Andreas CDF Assistant Chief Janet Piccola tells KVML News the CDF plane crashed in the Tulare County foothills Wednesday morning.

The plane went down northeast of Springville. Reports indicate CDF firefighters had been fighting a small forest fire in the area, but it wasn't known whether the aircraft was involved in battling that blaze.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing."

ABC News 30 says one died in the crash. More details as they become available.
SFGate quotes a CDF Spokeswoman however she offers no information on how many were on board.

September 05, 2006

Montana Fire Reminds Of Great Fire of 1910

Helenair.com brings us a reminder of the "Great Fire of 1910" as part of their coverage of the Derby Mountain Fire.

"..runs of more than 50,000 acres, fire brands thrown 10 miles from the flame front, turbulence of up to 80 mph, burns — where the fire entered a natural crucible — equivalent to a Hiroshima-type bomb exploding every two minutes. Three million acres of land burned in two days.

From the firefighters and townspeople who survived, we know the otherwise unbelievable reality of the firestorm’s passing. “Fancy a deep bowl which is completely lined with seething flames, yourself a spectator in the center, and you can in some degree conceive the scene,” wrote one man, who helped in the defense of tiny Mullan, Idaho...."

"Those who met the fire in the backcountry survived by diving into creeks and mine tunnels, staying put despite falling embers and suffocating gases. Virtually all who ran died.

By the time the firestorm spent itself in the Kootenai National Forest, at least 78 firefighters and seven civilians were dead: a mother and baby who drowned trying to escape the flames in their homestead’s well, a man who shot himself for fear of burning to death, another who jumped from a train as it neared a burning trestle. At Big Creek, in the Coeur d’Alene forest, seven men died when they took refuge in a prospect hole. Three others there were killed by an immense falling pine.

Ninety years later, all of the survivors are believed gone — and with most of them, their stories. Many of the firefighters simply were not literate. Some were not even known to their crew bosses, having been hired so quickly and haphazardly.

The stories that were recorded, though, are like no others in the history of wildland firefighting. A few of those follow, pulled from Forest Service files, family letters, handwritten reminiscences and newspaper clippings...."

Links Mentioned In President's Speech Today

In a speech to the Military Officer's Association today President Bush pointed us to this site at WhiteHouse.gov. On that page you'll find the link to Today's Terrorist Enemy that defines our enemy.