Wildland Fire News

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wildland firefighter organization seeks better pay and benefits

Wildland firefighters have formed a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization to advocate for better pay, benefits, a National Fire Service, and their own job series within the federal government. The IRS rules for a 501(c)(4) allow a “social welfare” non-profit group to spend their donated funds to lobby government in order to affect legislation, but they are not allowed to participate in political campaigns on behalf of a candidate for public office. The name of the all-volunteer group is Grassroots Wildland Firefighters (GRWFF). It was formed in 2019 by active and retired federal wildland firefighters (Forestry Technicians) and continued to grow after a series of articles were published beginning in August, 2020 that called attention to their plight on Wildfire Today, Vice News, and NBC.
Wildfire Today

California: PG&E customers will see more expensive bills to help pay for wildfire prevention equipment

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers are going to see more expensive bills that will help pay for equipment to help reduce the risk of wildfires. Customers will begin seeing an 8% rate increase which is taking effect March 1, 2021. This means residential customers will see an average increase of $13.44 per month. This comes after PG&E's outdated equipment was blamed for causing wildfires during 2017 and 2018 killing more than 120 people. KRCR spoke to PG&E customers in the Happy Valley area about this increase. Everyone said they believe the push for better equipment to protect their homes from wildfires is a great step forward, but it shouldn't mean their bills are more expensive than their rent. One customer said she believes there will still be bumps along the way even with the new equipment.
KRCR-TV ABC 7 Redding

Big questions loom after inspection of Colorado’s Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar

The Grizzly Creek Fire covered 32,631 acres before it was officially deemed contained Dec. 18. It shut down Interstate 70 for two weeks after it ignited Aug. 10. It threatened Glenwood Springs’ water supply and forced the closure of popular hiking trails and rafting put-ins. The disruption likely isn’t finished. “We’re going to learn a lot this summer,” said Steve Hunter, a former engineer with the White River National Forest and member of the Burn Area Emergency Response team. That group of scientists and specialists started assessing the Grizzly Creek burn area for soil burn severity and potential problem areas for flooding and debris flows even before the fire was out. Hunter discussed the role of the response team and the major issues facing the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar during a videoconference Thursday night hosted by Roaring Fork Conservancy, a Basalt nonprofit that explores all issues related to water in the Roaring Fork Valley. The response team’s work helped determine that 12% of the terrain within the perimeter of the fire suffered a high level of burn severity.
Summit Daily

ODNR urges caution during Ohio’s spring wildfire season

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is urging Ohioans to learn about the state’s outdoor burning regulations and to take precautions if they are planning to burn debris this spring. “A major cause of escaped wildfires in Ohio during the spring is the careless burning of trash and debris that accumulated during the winter months,” said Greg Guess, fire program administrator and assistant chief for the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Unnecessary risk to people and property can be minimized by following safe burning practices and being aware of the burning regulations.” Ohio law states that most outdoor debris burning is prohibited in unincorporated areas from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during March, April, and May (Ohio Revised Code 1503.18). Burning is limited in the spring due to the abundance of dry grass, weeds and leaves on the ground. Winds can make a seemingly safe fire burn more intensely and escape control. If a fire does escape control, immediately contact the local fire department. An escaped wildfire, even one burning in grass or weeds, is dangerous.
Record Herald

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Forecasters predict enhanced wildfire conditions in the southwest through June

The maps in the March 1 National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) are nearly the same as the maps for the same months distributed on February 1. It took me a long time to see a couple of minor differences in the ones produced 28 days ago. The outlook predicts wildfire potential will be higher than normal in the Southern Plains through June, 2021. This will include portions of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Arizona and New Mexico will have enhanced fire activity April through June, according to the forecast. The entire southwest one-quarter of the United States is currently experiencing either abnormally dry, severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.
Wildfire Today

COVID-19 may pose significant risk to wildland firefighters, expert warns

More than 10.3 million acres of land were scorched by wildfires nationwide in 2020. Firefighters battling the harrowing flames often work shifts that exceed 24 hours, and they stay in close quarters in remote locations for weeks at a time, offering a prime opportunity for COVID-19 to spread. In addition, firefighters in urban areas as well as in wildlands routinely are exposed to smoke, carbon monoxide, toxins from structure fires and other hazards to lung health. Although there isn’t much data to indicate whether smoke inhalation affects the infection rate or severity of COVID-19 in firefighters, some experts are voicing concerns about lessened lung capacity upon recovery and other health issues. “There’s definitely the question of whether or not those firefighters who are severely impacted will have trouble regaining lung capacity,” said Luke Montrose, an environmental toxicologist at Boise State University. “They’re already at risk for diseases like camp crud and lung cancer.”
Cronkite News

Alabama residents frustrated by landfill brush fire

A brush fire at a landfill has been sending smoke billowing over Hartselle for weeks. City officials say the fire is burning deep within the brush pile, so water alone cannot put out the fire. People who live nearby say they are not happy about the smell, or the smoke. “The smoke has been coming through my vents. It creates a layer of smoke at the top of my ceiling,” said Hartselle resident Lauri Boardman. Boardman says she had to buy an air purifier because smoke from a brush fire at the City of Hartselle Landfill is creeping inside her home. “They should be doing their job by providing the necessary equipment to take care of the mulch fire that’s at the city dump,” Boardman said.
WAFF-TV NBC 48 Huntsville

California firm ‘upcyles’ discarded hoses from North Bay wildfires into household products

When Steffen Kuehr looks at discarded fire hoses, he envisions belts, dog leashes and drink coasters. When he looks at vinyl event banners and all those billboards along highways, he sees totes, wine carriers and messenger bags. Kuehr, through his Santa Rosa company TekTailor, takes other people’s garbage and repurposes it into functional items. It’s called upcycling — the transformation of waste into a product people want. Among his most ambitious undertakings was to look at what might be done with thousands of pounds of fire hose from the 2019 Kincade Fire that burned in northern Sonoma County and the 2020 Glass Fire that ravaged parts of Napa and Sonoma counties. Once a hose has been damaged it cannot be used for another fire. “The fire hose was not easy to work with because it’s thick and hard,” Kuehr, 46, said. “We have to create products around the characteristics of the material. With the fire hose we soak it in a tub with natural cleaning liquid, power wash it, and hang it to dry.”
North Bay Business Journal

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