Preparedness Corner
August 2004
By Paul Vircsik

Special Edition

Hi Neighbors,

I have been watching the forum postings regarding forest conservation, fires and classes about fires and am pleased at the interest in fire safety within the ranch.  As someone recently wrote; “The question is not WHETHER a fire will threaten the ranch and all of our investment.  The questions will be HOW SOON will we be threatened, and will we be as PREPARED as we can reasonably expect to be”.

While we can be prepared as well as anyone lest us not forget that fire is an incredibly dynamic event.  The Cedar fire started in brush and trees as a small fire and like all major fires quickly developed into a monster.  A small fire on our ranch will probably do the same with the right conditions.  Even with the best plans and preparation, things can go wrong.  It happens to the best of us, professionally and homeowner.  There have been many fires throughout the nation already as the season takes its normal path (June 2002) and even though El Nino may bring rain to some parts of our nation, others will get the dry.

To prepare for another season if you have not already done so, re-read our Emergency Services Handbook, my columns, and watch the weather and the fire news.  Please read the next portion of this with our ranch area in mind.  Try to envision yourself in these predicaments whether you stay to fight and protect or while leaving to an evacuation point.  Remember that fire in the forest can reach upwards of 1200 degrees and skin burns at 130.

Chief Silva:  This Safety Message was sent to me, I thought it was one of the better reminders for us all.  Gary.

It is July 28, 2004. Today is the two year anniversary of the Stanza Fire and the LNF Engine 11 accident that killed 3 of our local firefighters.  July 22nd, 2003 was the Cramer Fire, in which 2 firefighters died.  This July 2nd marked the ten year anniversary of the South Canyon Fire that killed 14 firefighters.

Consider some events that have happened this year so far:

In all of these cases, LCES was followed.  In many cases, fire behavior changed quickly, was erratic and with spotting.

These are only the incidents I have heard of, there are probably more.  (This does not include the aviation accidents that we have had this fire season).  To me, this seems like a lot of near misses, this early in the season.

The incidents/near misses described above serve as a heads up to all our employees engaged in firefighting operations.  Fuel/fire conditions are severe in the western states.  It is only July.  We have several weeks of fire season remaining, and we do not want our people getting into situations that could cause injury or equipment damage.

Please Review Fireline Safety Daily With Your Crews

Fire line safety is appropriate for all of us even when just watching the smoke from a distant fire from the safety of the ranch.

Have a safe summer and I’ll see you all soon,

Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background