February 18, 2009
Firefighter is Victim 200 In Oz Bushfires
Firefighter Balfour was a member of the ACT Fire Brigade on assignment from neighboring Canberra.
Story here and supporting video, here.
February 15, 2009
Storm Watch: Big Sur Burn Areas On Alert
Image NOAA.GOV (Click to Enlarge)
February 14, 2009
Say A Prayer For SFFD Firefighter Christopher Posey
Six firefighters were injured in the fire when the roof collapsed. FireRescue1 and California Fire News provide additional coverage.
IAFF link to story. Firefighter Posey support group on Facebook.
February 13, 2009
"This was just so far off the scale of anything"
February 10, 2009
Greens Planted Seeds For "Perfect Storm" Fire Scenario in Victoria State
Their guidance was "trees being the holy green icon" and with that as their view came up with this.
"green groups were pushing for changes to planning laws that included restrictions on the removal of vegetation, "and worse still, the requirement for planting vegetation around and almost over houses, as part of any planning permit to build a house in the shire of Nillumbik, so it gave the appearance from the outside of being a forest".
This foolishness was designed against reminders of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 that killed more than 74 people in the region. The fires this month are a stiff reminder that there are consequences for bypassing expert advice or making rules contrary to scientific and historic evidence.
To some extent this question is being played out in court in California. As I posted here the San Diego utility is suing homeowners on the grounds their alleged negligence of defensible space ordinances contributed to the intensity of the Witch and Rice Fires in 2007.
What is often missing in the defensible space debate is the importance of cleared space as it applies to firefighter safety. Firefighters should not be called on to defend individual properties designed to simulate Tarzan's tree house. People that choose to live directly under trees should expect firefighters to pass by their homes on the way to protect more defensible properties.
This is a good time to initiate discussion on the topic, even as the fires in Victoria still rage. In a couple of months California and Western US states will begin burning. Let the decisions made by (ordinarily well intentioned) green's in Victoria State serve as a warning here.
UPDATE: Victoria homeowner charged nearly $100,000 dollars for clearing a defensible space around his home, his property survived.
February 09, 2009
Map Of Victoria Fires
Click here for the code.
February 08, 2009
Deaths From Aussie Fires May Reach 230
Flickr images from Vic Fires here.
Google Map of fire areas and EMS links here.
Update: Deaths from bushfires now at 166 says The Australian.
Death Toll Approaches 100 In Australia Wildfires
NZ Herald.co.nz informs us of the historic nature of this fire tragedy.
"In 1926 fires in the Dandenongs, Gippsland and Warburton in Victoria killed 91 people, 71 died in the state's "Black Friday" of 1939, and 75 perished in Victoria and South Australia in the Ash Wednesday infernos of 1983."
The town of Marysville, Northeast of Melbourne is one of several towns that took a direct hit. Many of the dead lived in Marysville and neighboring communities.
Update: Marysville has been leveled. "The Australian" shot these dramatic images of what was Marysville.
(Click images to enlarge)
Fires are also burning in New South Wales. Sydney firefighters who already have their hands full can expect worsening conditions as the heat wave makes its way North.
February 07, 2009
Australia Bushfire Deathtoll At 14 "Worst Day Ever"
Video from Victoria State visually describes the destruction as record temperatures combined with strong dry winds fan flames.
The CFA has issued severe alerts for no less that a dozen towns in the path of approaching fires. Interestingly their warnings advise citizens to patrol their properties for "ember attacks", something you never hear in the States.
This fire assault is reminding Australians of Ash Wednesday, February 13, 1983 when 75 people were killed by wildfires.
Uncomfirmed reports indicate more than one town burned to the ground yesterday.
Follow the news and individual accounts as they appear on Twitter.
UPDATE: Loss of life total now 49. 600 homes destroyed, story here.
February 03, 2009
Hundreds Line Up For 35 Firefighter Jobs In Miami
When I was 21 years old I stood in line for hours with hundreds of others for a shot at working for the San Jose Fire Dept. The department had 8 positions open, what was I thinking?
In line I met an attorney who wanted a career change. There was a CHP officer in line too. He was telling us he wanted the firefighter hours. I got through the written exam and came back for the physical test. Since I was a college athlete I was strong so I could drag the dummy and pull hose packs OK.
When it came to the oral interview I was over matched, I had no experience to fall back on, no practical firefighting knowledge. All I offered was a strong work ethic and moral code. I made the list, 200 something but it was pretty clear I would not be a finalist for one of the 8 positions.
This is the reality for most of the guys in Miami this week. It's tough to break in to this line of work.
My advice for someone looking for a city job is to learn as much about the department as possible. Have some fire science classes or better a degree under your belt. Study the department manuals cover to cover. If you can't find them in the library then ask someone in headquarters if you can borrow them or at least read them on site.
Know the history of the department, the larger fires, the names of the fallen and the circumstances that led to their deaths. If the department has a volunteer force, join it.
Persistence is the key. Overlook the fact nepotism is still alive and a fair share of jobs go to kin. Remember many of those hires are guys with a lifetime invested in learning the job.
I wish the men and women lined up in Miami all the best. Firefighting is an honorable and rewarding career.