EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


ES.1 BACKGROUND

Over the past several decades, Long Island has seen tremendous growth in the population of residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies in all areas throughout Suffolk County. With increased population comes increased pressure on the land and increased concern with wildfires and their management. The majority of the fires associated with the Central Pine Barrens region result from human action. In order to provide more consistent management of these wildfires and associated tasks, including pre-fire activities, the Central Pine Barrens Wildfire Task Force has developed this Fire Management Plan. This plan was developed keeping in mind that under Article 11 Subsection 176(a) of the Town Law of New York State, it is very clear in the law and undisputed that the chief of the fire department in the fire district where the incident occurs is in charge. The purpose of this plan is to serve as guidance for the fire service community and should not be construed as mandatory for the fire service community to implement.

The purpose of the Wildfire Task Force (WFTF) is to undertake fire planning for wildfire suppression response and to formulate guidelines for the use, where appropriate, of modified wildfire suppression strategies. However, the Wildfire Task Force recognizes that the threat to human lives and property justifies the suppression and control of these wildfires and, further, that aggressive fire suppression must remain an essential cornerstone for response to wildfires in the Central Pine Barrens, given the development and conditions in the surrounding Compatible Growth Area.

The wildfire plan acknowledges and supports the concept that wildfire suppression should remain the standard for areas where wildland and developed areas meet, when fires threaten residential areas, or when human life or property are, presumptively, in immediate danger. This document also acknowledges and supports that for certain relatively "remote" areas in the Central Pine Barrens, modified suppression strategies that use confinement and containment methods with indirect attack, should be considered in the selection of strategy and tactics for this situation. Such modified techniques would enhance firefighter safety by reducing exposure to increased risks associated with direct attack under varying conditions.

ES.2 TASK FORCE CREATION

The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission (the Commission) was established in accordance with the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act of 1993, as codified in Article 57 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The Central Pine Barrens Commission subsequently prepared and adopted the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan which was adopted on June 28, 1995.

In accordance with ECL 57-0121(6)(t) of the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, the plan was to include provisions for fire management for unanticipated fires ("wildfires") including coordination with the local volunteer fire departments. Under this framework, the Central Pine Barrens Commission passed the resolution to establish a "Central Pine Barrens Wildfire Task Force" on November 8, 1995, that was modified on December 6, 1995, January 29, 1997, and March 11, 1998.

The resolution contains six requirements that were ultimately developed into the goals of the Wildfire Task Force. The requirements are:

(1) a fire plan for incident response, mobilization, and resource deployment;
(2) a determination of the wildfire suppression techniques appropriate for use in the Core Preservation Area (CPA) of the Central Pine Barrens (CPB);
(3) a list of criteria and guidelines for the selection and use of each wildfire technique;
(4) fire prevention programs or techniques appropriate for the CPA of the CPB;
(5) a standard system of record keeping for fire incidents in the CPA of the CPB; and
(6) such other components as the Wildfire Task Force shall determine to be essential.

ES.3 MISSION AND GOALS

From these six requirements, the Wildfire Task Force developed a mission statement and goals. The mission of the Central Pine Barrens Wildfire Task Force is to undertake fire planning for wildfire suppression that ensures the safety of emergency response personnel and the public, while considering the ecological concerns of the Core Preservation Area of the Central Pine Barrens region. From this mission, the goals of the Wildfire Task Force are:

Goal 1: Develop a Fire Management Plan for the Core Preservation Area of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens region.

Goal 2: Develop a standard and acceptable Incident Command System (ICS) for response to wildfire incidents consistent with the Suffolk County ICS Plan.

Goal 3: Establish a fire information program on the activities of the Wildfire Task Force to inform and solicit the support of the Fire Commissioners and Fire Chiefs for the work of this Wildfire Task Force.

Goal 4: Establish an appropriate training program for all Suffolk County volunteer firefighters on wildfire-urban interface suppression.

Goal 5: To provide public education on wildfire awareness, safety, and prevention, as well as urban interface wildfire prevention and safety.

This Fire Management Plan represents the detailed work of the Wildfire Task Force with respect to its goals.

The Plan provides information on:

A glossary is provided in Appendix A to clarify and explain fire related terms used in this document that may be unfamiliar to the general public.

This plan is intended to be a "living" document that will evolve with time and experience. Future development and changes to this plan will depend on continued interaction of all the groups involved thus far and in the continued efforts of the Wildfire Task Force. The Task Force has developed the following list of recommendations to submit to the Central Pine Barrens Commission. Identified after each recommendation, where applicable, is the chapter of the plan that provides the basis for this recommendation. The implementation of the following recommendations will enable the functional pieces of this plan to come to fruition. More general recommendations applicable to the fire service community are provided at the end of Chapters 3 through 11 (excluding Chapter 9).

ES.R RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PINE BARRENS COMMISSION