Forest Fire Suppression
| FOREST FIRES - Overview | FIRE PREVENTION | FIRE PREDICTION & ANALYSIS ||
COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPORTATION
It would be an understatement to say, the sooner a fire is reported, the quicker it can be extinquished. The moment a fire report comes in, a number of key questions need to be answered in order to initiate a suppression strategy - location, accessibility, and size and category of fire.
In most instances, where initial reports are unclear or when a fire is in a remote area, evaluation is done from the air (See Bird Dog Aircraft). The method of transporting crews to a fire site varies depending on terrain and accessibility. Ground transport will usually relay fire crews to a fire within a reasonable driving distance of a fire base. Where no road access is available, or ground response time is prohibitive, crews are flown in by helicopter, or by plane if a lake is nearby. In some cases, crews - called "smokejumpers" - are parachuted into remote wilderness locations as a first line of defence.
The key to controlling and supressing a forest fire is getting man-power and equipment to the scene in as short a time as possible. Then, during the evolution of the fire, as information from the field, and data from different sources (eg. weather and satellite maps) becomes available, the firefighting strategy can be modified from the first-response plan.
FIGHTING THE FIRE
Ground fires, which burn on the ground or below ground vegetation, are often best controlled by digging trenches or "firelines" down into the mineral soil layer, which cannot burn. When the fire reaches the fireline, it is starved of fuel and extinquishes itself.
Fighting of surface fires, which burn along the surface and tend to move quicker, require more manpower and equipment. Portable water backpacks and pumps (where a water supply is available), and firebreaks are the preferred methods. These can be very labour-intesive methods except in instances where machinery is available to clear bush for the firebreaks.
Crown fires are most dangerous and spread the fastest. They occur in the tops of the trees where fire can "jump" from crown to crown, often jumping over firebreaks. Crown fires in extremely windy conditions have been known to jump rivers and even lakes.
Fighting crown fires usually calls for extreme measures, generally calling for aerial bombing with water and/or fire retardant chemicals.
THE EVOLUTION OF WATERBOMBING
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