Wildfires can be suppressed using a variety of strategies including confinement, containment and control. These strategies utilize the tactics of both direct and indirect attack. Control strategies with direct attack tactics and heavy reliance on mechanized equipment are the current means used by most fire departments in suppressing wildfires in the Central Pine Barrens. Most departments within the Central Pine Barrens use the Incident Command System (ICS) with heavy dependence on mutual aid assistance. Mutual aid response is coordinated through the Suffolk County Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services Department. This plan recognizes the success that this well established structure has for suppressing wildfires within the Central Pine Barrens.
Full suppression should remain the standard for areas where wildland and development areas meet, when fires threaten residential areas, and when human life and property are in immediate danger.
Most wildfires within the Central Pine Barrens are handled with a modest amount of suppression resources, provided by the fire district in which the fire occurs and local mutual aid. These incidents are typically less than three hours in duration and do not require any special resources or elaborate requirements for rehabilitation ("rehab"), liquid refreshment or nutrition. The mutual aid requests are processed by the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES) Communication Center in Yaphank, which maintains a current database of all available apparatus and special equipment.
Additional resources may be needed for larger or unique incidents. A list of available resources used for firefighting is included in Appendix D.1. This list includes nontraditional firefighting equipment, specialized firefighting equipment and other equipment needed to control a wildland fire. This list should be modified to fit local needs and to include specific information about local vendors. It is recommended that the fire chief prepare this local resource list in cooperation with his Board of Fire Commissioners. The list should be reviewed periodically, and updated as needed, to ensure accuracy when needed for an emergency.
For very large incidents, involving Countywide response and lasting more than eight hours, additional provisions must be made for extensive rehab and personnel rotation (provision for meals, bathroom facilities, etc.). Also, provisions must be made to allow for relief and rotation of personnel in all key ICS functions. Logistics problems are not often experienced with Suffolk County incidents, but nonetheless are an important component of the Logistics Group in the Incident Command Structure. This ICS section is best handled under the direction of at least one chief officer who should coordinate expenditures with a representative from the Board of Fire Commissioners.
The Central Pine Barrens Wildfire Management Task Force has also been working with local, County and State government officials to make other special suppression equipment available to the local fire chief. These special resources include helicopters with "water drop" capability and availability of "hand crews" for support during suppression and mop-up operations. Once agreements and procedures for obtaining access to this equipment is finalized, information will be distributed to all fire chiefs and commissioners for their use.
6.3 SIZE-UP AND INCIDENT CLASSIFICATION
Size-up of a wildland fire is just as important as size-up in a structure fire. The Wildfire Task Force has developed a size-up system for wildfires that uses the national system(1) but incorporates local knowledge and conditions. Appendix D.2 contains a simple wildfire size-up form that will assist the first arriving officer in determining the extent of the fire, and recording pertinent information. This form will also assist the Incident Commander in performing future size-ups as required throughout the incident. It is recommended that a size-up of the fire occurs upon arrival and then update every fifteen (15) minutes until the fire is contained, thereafter, every thirty (30) minutes until the fire is controlled, and at least once each eight (8) hours until the fire is extinguished.
The Size-Up Form found in Appendix D.2, assists with recording specific
fire data identified in Table 6.1.
|Date and Time||Self explanatory.|
|Location||Street location of fire.|
|Size||The size of the fire is recorded in terms of number of acres involved on arrival of first unit and at time of updates.|
|Rate of spread||Recorded on arrival and at time of updates as fast, medium or slow.|
|Exposures||Identifies the type of exposure: residential, business or hazardous materials and time until threatened.|
|Firebreaks||Identifies trails, roads or cleared areas that can be used as firebreaks or firelines.|
|Fire behavior||Type of fuel [grass, slow woods (such as oak and locust) or pines] and type of fire (ground, surface or crown)|
|Weather conditions||Temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and wind direction|
|Fire weather index||This is a scale and explanation of the fire weather conditions for the fire location disseminated by Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, obtained at the time of dispatch and updated as required. It includes information on the 10 hr. fuel moisture content and drought index.|
|Fire classification||Type IV - Responding Department & up to 3 Mutual-Aid Departments.
Type III - Responding Department & 3-10 Mutual-Aid Departments.
Type II - County Wide Resources are needed, most ICS positions are filled.
Type I - State and Federal Resources are needed - ALL ICS positions
are filled by most qualified personnel.
Each classification indicates the level of equipment, manpower and mutual aid (local, county, state and/or federal) required in addition to the responding department to control and extinguish the fire. Type I represents the most severe case where state and/or federal aid is required to control the fire. An exception to this would be the use of state helicopter resources which may also be employed under Type II and III without reclassification to a Type I.
6.3.2 Incident Classification
The second part of the Size-Up Form, identified as the Wildfire Checklist in Appendix D.3, will assist the first arriving officer in determining strategies and tactics. This section of the form assists the Incident Commander with the paper work needed for reporting requirements and also with determining the resources required to contain, control and extinguish a wildland fire. This form provides information and collects data on the items identified below:
Following size-up, the first arriving officer should follow the recommended
guidelines below to establish an Incident Command System (ICS) and the
staging area, determine strategies and tactics for effective fire suppression
(keeping in mind firefighter safety), while minimizing the impact of suppression
strategies and tactics on the local ecology.
|1. Establish Incident Command System (ICS)|
|2. Establish Staging Area and Assign Staging Officer|
|3. Determine Strategies To Be Used|
|4. Determine Tactics To Be Used For Firefighting|
|5. Follow Established Fire Safety Strategies|
Staying safe at a wildfire means that fire personnel are aware of and monitor, environmental factors that include fuel characteristics, fuel moisture, fuel temperature, terrain, wind, atmospheric stability and fire behavior. There are indicators for each of these factors and their interactions that affect fire behavior and therefore firefighter safety. Select effective suppression tactics considering observed and expected fire behavior.
The safety system called: Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, Safety Zones (LCES) highlights the most critical components of fireline safety. It emphasizes the following:
|5. Follow Established Fire Safety Strategies - Continued|
|The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) publishes the Fireline
Safety Reference Booklet (NFES 2243) that summarizes the basic elements
of wildfire safety concepts. It includes the following:
Sector officers and officers of equipment in operation during a large fire should constantly be aware of safety zone locations in the area in case they are needed.
|6. Rehabilitation (Rehab) and Relief Operations|
|7. Resources and Logistics:|
|As part of the ICS, a Logistics Officer should be assigned to begin
work on procurement and set up of anticipated support items, such as:
6.4.2 Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST)
The use of MIST is discussed in this subsection as it relates to Long Island wildfires and brush truck operations. MIST is NOT a separate classification of wildfire suppression tactics or strategies. It is simply a "mind-set" of how to suppress a wildfire while minimizing the long term effects of the suppression action. This concept also extensively reduces wear and tear on the brush trucks, bulldozers and fire plows, as well as the number of breakdowns experienced.
The concept of MIST is to use the minimum amount of apparatus and heavy equipment necessary to effectively extinguish the fire and to take into account ecosystem management objectives when establishing suppression tactics. For Long Island, which has extensive wildland-urban interface zones, it is recognized that an aggressive attack is necessary for protection of lives and property. There are, however, several simple guidelines that follow the MIST concept while using aggressive suppression tactics. Firefighter safety, as always, remains the highest priority. Identified below are examples of how MIST can be used in firefighting situations.
Effective mop-up and perimeter control must be started as soon as possible to secure firelines from the point of fire origin. The IC should assign a Chief Officer as the perimeter control officer. The use of brush truck strike teams should be considered for this operation prior to bulldozers to protect the woodlands from further damage. Units should secure the perimeter and not be overly concerned with small internal fires. A fireline should be created and held to contain the fire and finally extinguish it. The use of hand crews can also be of value when difficult terrain or limited equipment exists.
The use of burnouts of unburned fuel inside the perimeter is an effective method of controlling the perimeter to limit the chance of internal fires gaining the headway needed to breach the perimeter. The IC will need to determine, based on existing predicted local weather conditions, whether or not burnouts can be used.