Spring training for wildfire season
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Spring training is wrapping up for Major League Baseball, and the regular season starts April 2. Over the past month, players from every team have been holed up at training camps, studiously perfecting their skills. This annual tradition builds team camaraderie and gets players "game ready."
In the fire service, our spring training is just beginning. How ready are you for this year's wildfire season? It doesn't matter which state you're in, wildfires seem to be hitting all over the nation.
Hopefully, you and your agency have started your spring training. If you're just getting started, here are some items to consider incorporating into your training regimen:
Review applicable policies. Begin with your wildland fire response policy, but don't stop there. This is a good time to focus on safety, mutual aid and fitness-for-duty policies, too.
Plan and train with your neighboring agencies. One of the key challenges to wildland fire incidents is that multiple agencies respond. It's important to work through radio communications, compatibility of equipment and incident terminology. Do you know what to do and who to notify if the fire threatens to move out of your jurisdiction and into another?
Inspect your equipment. Your brush fire gear has likely been stored away since last year. Now is the time to pull out wildland fire PPE, packs and fire shelters and inspect them carefully. And don't forget the brush truck!
Review wildland-specific safety procedures. Make sure your crew knows the 10 Standard Orders and 18 Watch Out Situations as well as the principles of lookouts, communications, escape routes and safety zones (LCES).
Start a community education campaign. If there are wildland-urban interface areas in your community, develop PSAs and other messaging to urge residents to clear brush and fuels, create defensible space, and prepare to evacuate.
Identify wildland target hazards in your first-in and second-in areas. Preparation goes beyond just working in the station. Make sure your crews get out there and develop preattack fire plans and staging locations for specific neighborhoods and situations. Identify safety zones and escape routes, and talk through specific scenarios to make sure your firefighters have a shared knowledge of how to apply wildland firefighting concepts in a practical manner.
Game day is right around the corner. Our competition — wildfires — will be tough and relentless this year. Are you ready to play ball?
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