Commission Recommends New High-Tech Methods to Fight Forest Fires

Our View: Station Fire burns for second review

Read more:http://www.sgvtribune.com/opinions/ci_15141467#ixzz0pDT6Rxye
 

Commission Recommends New High-Tech Methods to Fight Forest Fires

25 May 2010

published by www.nbclosangeles.com    


Haunted by specters of raging wildfires and horrific personal injuries, Arizona cities are preparing a counterattack on fireworks that were legalized this month by the state Legislature.

Selling consumer fireworks such as sparklers, ground-based fountains, pinwheels and snakes will be legal in Arizona as of Dec. 1 because of House Bill 2246. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and was signed May 10 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

 

Unlike a similar bill that Brewer vetoed last year, the new law allows cities to ban or restrict the use of such devices, and several are likely to do just that.

“There’s nobody within any of the mountain communities that feels fireworks and the forests are a good mix,” said Eric Kriwer, a division chief and spokesman for the Prescott Fire Department.

Kriwer said he has been in touch with fire departments across northern and eastern Arizona to see if the cities can develop a united front on the issue. One question is whether to ban the devices outright or allow their use when fire danger is low.

It’s an issue not just in the high country, where several towns have suffered disaster or had close calls over the past two decades. Valley cities also are concerned.

Mesa Councilman Scott Somers, who is a paramedic and fire engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department, said fire officials from across the Valley will meet next week to map a strategy.

The aim, he said, is “a rational law that restricts the use of fireworks near the wildland-urban interface but perhaps allows them in areas that are not susceptible” to wildfires.

“Wildland-urban interface” is a term firefighters and forest managers use to describe areas where homes are built close to, or even amid, fire-prone forests and desert vegetation. The Valley has several such areas.

“My nightmare scenario,” Somers said, “is a group of teenagers who buy fireworks, go out in the desert by Usery Mountain, light a brushfire, can’t put it out, and it carries right into homes. That’s the challenge we’re going to face.”

Although dry lightning causes numerous Arizona wildfires, including the 1995 Rio Fire in the McDowell Mountains north of Scottsdale and the 2005 Cave Creek Complex Fire, people are responsible for many others – sometimes accidentally and sometimes not.

Republic archives contain no records of major Arizona wildland fires caused by fireworks, but some urban fires have been.

In July 1987, fireworks ignited hay sheds at Turf Paradise; the blaze burned for two days. Two years later, fireworks torched a Phoenix home; four firefighters escaped serious injury when they fell through the roof.

A committee of the Mesa City Council planned this week to talk about a fireworks ordinance, but backed off when it learned the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a model ordinance that cities can use.

“There have been a few (cities) that actually asked us if we would assist them in drafting an ordinance,” said Dale Wiebusch, the league’s legislative associate.

A unified approach makes sense, said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Mike Dunn. “I think we all need to be on the same page, but I don’t know what that page is yet,” he said.

Somers said fireworks also could cause problems in unincorporated areas. He said counties might need to draft laws.

Scottsdale, meanwhile, is likely to act soon, said that city’s fire marshal, Jim Ford.

“At this point, we’re putting together something that we can take to council,” he said. “With us here in Scottsdale, a third of our city is preserve, and citizens have paid for that.”

Ford said he knows of at least two cases where small fires in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve were started with bottle rockets, which will remain illegal.

It’s not just the threat of wildfires that concerns firefighters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 people died and an estimated 9,200 people required hospital treatment in 2006 for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. Sparklers caused 1,000 of those injuries and one-third of the people hurt by sparklers were younger than 5.

Kriwer said statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association showed 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2007 were caused by the types of devices that Arizona is legalizing.

“Why in the world anybody would allow their children to play with these things is beyond me,” Somers said. “The tip of a sparkler burns at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. We scream at our children if they try to touch a sheet of cookies that just came out of the oven at 450 degrees, but we’ll hand them a sparkler. I don’t get that.”

Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/05/21/20100521arizona-fireworks-ban.html#ixzz0pDLNJ3yN
 

Haunted by specters of raging wildfires and horrific personal injuries, Arizona cities are preparing a counterattack on fireworks that were legalized this month by the state Legislature.

Selling consumer fireworks such as sparklers, ground-based fountains, pinwheels and snakes will be legal in Arizona as of Dec. 1 because of House Bill 2246. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and was signed May 10 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

 

Unlike a similar bill that Brewer vetoed last year, the new law allows cities to ban or restrict the use of such devices, and several are likely to do just that.

“There’s nobody within any of the mountain communities that feels fireworks and the forests are a good mix,” said Eric Kriwer, a division chief and spokesman for the Prescott Fire Department.

Kriwer said he has been in touch with fire departments across northern and eastern Arizona to see if the cities can develop a united front on the issue. One question is whether to ban the devices outright or allow their use when fire danger is low.

It’s an issue not just in the high country, where several towns have suffered disaster or had close calls over the past two decades. Valley cities also are concerned.

Mesa Councilman Scott Somers, who is a paramedic and fire engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department, said fire officials from across the Valley will meet next week to map a strategy.

The aim, he said, is “a rational law that restricts the use of fireworks near the wildland-urban interface but perhaps allows them in areas that are not susceptible” to wildfires.

“Wildland-urban interface” is a term firefighters and forest managers use to describe areas where homes are built close to, or even amid, fire-prone forests and desert vegetation. The Valley has several such areas.

“My nightmare scenario,” Somers said, “is a group of teenagers who buy fireworks, go out in the desert by Usery Mountain, light a brushfire, can’t put it out, and it carries right into homes. That’s the challenge we’re going to face.”

Although dry lightning causes numerous Arizona wildfires, including the 1995 Rio Fire in the McDowell Mountains north of Scottsdale and the 2005 Cave Creek Complex Fire, people are responsible for many others – sometimes accidentally and sometimes not.

Republic archives contain no records of major Arizona wildland fires caused by fireworks, but some urban fires have been.

In July 1987, fireworks ignited hay sheds at Turf Paradise; the blaze burned for two days. Two years later, fireworks torched a Phoenix home; four firefighters escaped serious injury when they fell through the roof.

A committee of the Mesa City Council planned this week to talk about a fireworks ordinance, but backed off when it learned the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a model ordinance that cities can use.

“There have been a few (cities) that actually asked us if we would assist them in drafting an ordinance,” said Dale Wiebusch, the league’s legislative associate.

A unified approach makes sense, said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Mike Dunn. “I think we all need to be on the same page, but I don’t know what that page is yet,” he said.

Somers said fireworks also could cause problems in unincorporated areas. He said counties might need to draft laws.

Scottsdale, meanwhile, is likely to act soon, said that city’s fire marshal, Jim Ford.

“At this point, we’re putting together something that we can take to council,” he said. “With us here in Scottsdale, a third of our city is preserve, and citizens have paid for that.”

Ford said he knows of at least two cases where small fires in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve were started with bottle rockets, which will remain illegal.

It’s not just the threat of wildfires that concerns firefighters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 people died and an estimated 9,200 people required hospital treatment in 2006 for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. Sparklers caused 1,000 of those injuries and one-third of the people hurt by sparklers were younger than 5.

Kriwer said statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association showed 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2007 were caused by the types of devices that Arizona is legalizing.

“Why in the world anybody would allow their children to play with these things is beyond me,” Somers said. “The tip of a sparkler burns at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. We scream at our children if they try to touch a sheet of cookies that just came out of the oven at 450 degrees, but we’ll hand them a sparkler. I don’t get that.”

Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/05/21/20100521arizona-fireworks-ban.html#ixzz0pDLNJ3yN
 

Haunted by specters of raging wildfires and horrific personal injuries, Arizona cities are preparing a counterattack on fireworks that were legalized this month by the state Legislature.

Selling consumer fireworks such as sparklers, ground-based fountains, pinwheels and snakes will be legal in Arizona as of Dec. 1 because of House Bill 2246. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and was signed May 10 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

 

Unlike a similar bill that Brewer vetoed last year, the new law allows cities to ban or restrict the use of such devices, and several are likely to do just that.

“There’s nobody within any of the mountain communities that feels fireworks and the forests are a good mix,” said Eric Kriwer, a division chief and spokesman for the Prescott Fire Department.

Kriwer said he has been in touch with fire departments across northern and eastern Arizona to see if the cities can develop a united front on the issue. One question is whether to ban the devices outright or allow their use when fire danger is low.

It’s an issue not just in the high country, where several towns have suffered disaster or had close calls over the past two decades. Valley cities also are concerned.

Mesa Councilman Scott Somers, who is a paramedic and fire engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department, said fire officials from across the Valley will meet next week to map a strategy.

The aim, he said, is “a rational law that restricts the use of fireworks near the wildland-urban interface but perhaps allows them in areas that are not susceptible” to wildfires.

“Wildland-urban interface” is a term firefighters and forest managers use to describe areas where homes are built close to, or even amid, fire-prone forests and desert vegetation. The Valley has several such areas.

“My nightmare scenario,” Somers said, “is a group of teenagers who buy fireworks, go out in the desert by Usery Mountain, light a brushfire, can’t put it out, and it carries right into homes. That’s the challenge we’re going to face.”

Although dry lightning causes numerous Arizona wildfires, including the 1995 Rio Fire in the McDowell Mountains north of Scottsdale and the 2005 Cave Creek Complex Fire, people are responsible for many others – sometimes accidentally and sometimes not.

Republic archives contain no records of major Arizona wildland fires caused by fireworks, but some urban fires have been.

In July 1987, fireworks ignited hay sheds at Turf Paradise; the blaze burned for two days. Two years later, fireworks torched a Phoenix home; four firefighters escaped serious injury when they fell through the roof.

A committee of the Mesa City Council planned this week to talk about a fireworks ordinance, but backed off when it learned the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a model ordinance that cities can use.

“There have been a few (cities) that actually asked us if we would assist them in drafting an ordinance,” said Dale Wiebusch, the league’s legislative associate.

A unified approach makes sense, said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Mike Dunn. “I think we all need to be on the same page, but I don’t know what that page is yet,” he said.

Somers said fireworks also could cause problems in unincorporated areas. He said counties might need to draft laws.

Scottsdale, meanwhile, is likely to act soon, said that city’s fire marshal, Jim Ford.

“At this point, we’re putting together something that we can take to council,” he said. “With us here in Scottsdale, a third of our city is preserve, and citizens have paid for that.”

Ford said he knows of at least two cases where small fires in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve were started with bottle rockets, which will remain illegal.

It’s not just the threat of wildfires that concerns firefighters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 people died and an estimated 9,200 people required hospital treatment in 2006 for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. Sparklers caused 1,000 of those injuries and one-third of the people hurt by sparklers were younger than 5.

Kriwer said statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association showed 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2007 were caused by the types of devices that Arizona is legalizing.

“Why in the world anybody would allow their children to play with these things is beyond me,” Somers said. “The tip of a sparkler burns at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. We scream at our children if they try to touch a sheet of cookies that just came out of the oven at 450 degrees, but we’ll hand them a sparkler. I don’t get that.”

Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/05/21/20100521arizona-fireworks-ban.html#ixzz0pDLNJ3yN
 

Haunted by specters of raging wildfires and horrific personal injuries, Arizona cities are preparing a counterattack on fireworks that were legalized this month by the state Legislature.

Selling consumer fireworks such as sparklers, ground-based fountains, pinwheels and snakes will be legal in Arizona as of Dec. 1 because of House Bill 2246. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and was signed May 10 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

 

Unlike a similar bill that Brewer vetoed last year, the new law allows cities to ban or restrict the use of such devices, and several are likely to do just that.

“There’s nobody within any of the mountain communities that feels fireworks and the forests are a good mix,” said Eric Kriwer, a division chief and spokesman for the Prescott Fire Department.

Kriwer said he has been in touch with fire departments across northern and eastern Arizona to see if the cities can develop a united front on the issue. One question is whether to ban the devices outright or allow their use when fire danger is low.

It’s an issue not just in the high country, where several towns have suffered disaster or had close calls over the past two decades. Valley cities also are concerned.

Mesa Councilman Scott Somers, who is a paramedic and fire engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department, said fire officials from across the Valley will meet next week to map a strategy.

The aim, he said, is “a rational law that restricts the use of fireworks near the wildland-urban interface but perhaps allows them in areas that are not susceptible” to wildfires.

“Wildland-urban interface” is a term firefighters and forest managers use to describe areas where homes are built close to, or even amid, fire-prone forests and desert vegetation. The Valley has several such areas.

“My nightmare scenario,” Somers said, “is a group of teenagers who buy fireworks, go out in the desert by Usery Mountain, light a brushfire, can’t put it out, and it carries right into homes. That’s the challenge we’re going to face.”

Although dry lightning causes numerous Arizona wildfires, including the 1995 Rio Fire in the McDowell Mountains north of Scottsdale and the 2005 Cave Creek Complex Fire, people are responsible for many others – sometimes accidentally and sometimes not.

Republic archives contain no records of major Arizona wildland fires caused by fireworks, but some urban fires have been.

In July 1987, fireworks ignited hay sheds at Turf Paradise; the blaze burned for two days. Two years later, fireworks torched a Phoenix home; four firefighters escaped serious injury when they fell through the roof.

A committee of the Mesa City Council planned this week to talk about a fireworks ordinance, but backed off when it learned the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a model ordinance that cities can use.

“There have been a few (cities) that actually asked us if we would assist them in drafting an ordinance,” said Dale Wiebusch, the league’s legislative associate.

A unified approach makes sense, said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Mike Dunn. “I think we all need to be on the same page, but I don’t know what that page is yet,” he said.

Somers said fireworks also could cause problems in unincorporated areas. He said counties might need to draft laws.

Scottsdale, meanwhile, is likely to act soon, said that city’s fire marshal, Jim Ford.

“At this point, we’re putting together something that we can take to council,” he said. “With us here in Scottsdale, a third of our city is preserve, and citizens have paid for that.”

Ford said he knows of at least two cases where small fires in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve were started with bottle rockets, which will remain illegal.

It’s not just the threat of wildfires that concerns firefighters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 people died and an estimated 9,200 people required hospital treatment in 2006 for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. Sparklers caused 1,000 of those injuries and one-third of the people hurt by sparklers were younger than 5.

Kriwer said statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association showed 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2007 were caused by the types of devices that Arizona is legalizing.

“Why in the world anybody would allow their children to play with these things is beyond me,” Somers said. “The tip of a sparkler burns at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. We scream at our children if they try to touch a sheet of cookies that just came out of the oven at 450 degrees, but we’ll hand them a sparkler. I don’t get that.”

Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/05/21/20100521arizona-fireworks-ban.html#ixzz0pDLNJ3yN
 

Haunted by specters of raging wildfires and horrific personal injuries, Arizona cities are preparing a counterattack on fireworks that were legalized this month by the state Legislature.

Selling consumer fireworks such as sparklers, ground-based fountains, pinwheels and snakes will be legal in Arizona as of Dec. 1 because of House Bill 2246. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and was signed May 10 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

 

Unlike a similar bill that Brewer vetoed last year, the new law allows cities to ban or restrict the use of such devices, and several are likely to do just that.

“There’s nobody within any of the mountain communities that feels fireworks and the forests are a good mix,” said Eric Kriwer, a division chief and spokesman for the Prescott Fire Department.

Kriwer said he has been in touch with fire departments across northern and eastern Arizona to see if the cities can develop a united front on the issue. One question is whether to ban the devices outright or allow their use when fire danger is low.

It’s an issue not just in the high country, where several towns have suffered disaster or had close calls over the past two decades. Valley cities also are concerned.

Mesa Councilman Scott Somers, who is a paramedic and fire engineer with the Phoenix Fire Department, said fire officials from across the Valley will meet next week to map a strategy.

The aim, he said, is “a rational law that restricts the use of fireworks near the wildland-urban interface but perhaps allows them in areas that are not susceptible” to wildfires.

“Wildland-urban interface” is a term firefighters and forest managers use to describe areas where homes are built close to, or even amid, fire-prone forests and desert vegetation. The Valley has several such areas.

“My nightmare scenario,” Somers said, “is a group of teenagers who buy fireworks, go out in the desert by Usery Mountain, light a brushfire, can’t put it out, and it carries right into homes. That’s the challenge we’re going to face.”

Although dry lightning causes numerous Arizona wildfires, including the 1995 Rio Fire in the McDowell Mountains north of Scottsdale and the 2005 Cave Creek Complex Fire, people are responsible for many others – sometimes accidentally and sometimes not.

Republic archives contain no records of major Arizona wildland fires caused by fireworks, but some urban fires have been.

In July 1987, fireworks ignited hay sheds at Turf Paradise; the blaze burned for two days. Two years later, fireworks torched a Phoenix home; four firefighters escaped serious injury when they fell through the roof.

A committee of the Mesa City Council planned this week to talk about a fireworks ordinance, but backed off when it learned the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a model ordinance that cities can use.

“There have been a few (cities) that actually asked us if we would assist them in drafting an ordinance,” said Dale Wiebusch, the league’s legislative associate.

A unified approach makes sense, said Mesa Fire Department spokesman Mike Dunn. “I think we all need to be on the same page, but I don’t know what that page is yet,” he said.

Somers said fireworks also could cause problems in unincorporated areas. He said counties might need to draft laws.

Scottsdale, meanwhile, is likely to act soon, said that city’s fire marshal, Jim Ford.

“At this point, we’re putting together something that we can take to council,” he said. “With us here in Scottsdale, a third of our city is preserve, and citizens have paid for that.”

Ford said he knows of at least two cases where small fires in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve were started with bottle rockets, which will remain illegal.

It’s not just the threat of wildfires that concerns firefighters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 people died and an estimated 9,200 people required hospital treatment in 2006 for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. Sparklers caused 1,000 of those injuries and one-third of the people hurt by sparklers were younger than 5.

Kriwer said statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association showed 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2007 were caused by the types of devices that Arizona is legalizing.

“Why in the world anybody would allow their children to play with these things is beyond me,” Somers said. “The tip of a sparkler burns at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. We scream at our children if they try to touch a sheet of cookies that just came out of the oven at 450 degrees, but we’ll hand them a sparkler. I don’t get that.”

Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2010/05/21/20100521arizona-fireworks-ban.html#ixzz0pDLNJ3yN
  

Automated technology may help firefighters identify threats and get to the source of a blaze more quickly

Getty Images

In the wake of the Station Fire, a county commission is recommending new high-technology tools to better fight wildfires.

The commission released a report urging the Board of Supervisors to partner with federal agencies to test using satellite technology that can pinpoint fires. In addition, the commission hopes to develop new procedures to better manage the coordination of fire fighters and other city agencies.

The U.S. Forest Service already uses a weather satellite for detection, according to the analysis produced by the Quality and Productivity Commission of the county’s Chief Executive Office.

The report also recommends that Los Angeles County firefighters field test surveillance cameras and infrared ground sensors to determine which specific equipment best suits the county’s geography and other unique conditions.

“Some of the most destructive fires in recent years began at night, when few people were awake to report them,” the report states. “Others began in remote and relatively low-risk areas, but spread to threaten urban areas.

Helicopter avionics which offer terrain guidance and the most direct route to fires in progress were also recommended for study by county fire personnel.

New 24-hour, automated technology may help firefighters identify threats and get to the source of a blaze quickly, but coordination between all the fire agencies involved in any major brush fire may be just as important in mitigating damage, the task force determined.

The commission also urged the county to create a task force of “all fire agencies in Los Angeles County to agree on one common set of rules of engagement for suppressing fires in the extended wildland urban interface.”

That proposal spoke most directly to Antonovich’s concern that the U.S. Forest Service moved too slowly in an air attack on last year’s massive Station Fire, which ultimately burned 250 square miles of forest, destroyed about 200 structures — including about 90 homes — and resulted in the death of two county firefighters.

The fire initially cost $95 million to fight, but the flooding and mudslides in the rainy season that followed cost millions more and are likely to continue to burden the county for years to come.

Last Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010 | 6:49 PM CTComments21Recommend16

A 3,500-hectare fire continued to consume forest near Berens River First Nation on Thursday.A 3,500-hectare fire continued to consume forest near Berens River First Nation on Thursday.(Province of Manitoba)Fifty-five people from Berens River First Nation were airlifted out of the Manitoba community Wednesday night because of a health hazard posed by billowing smoke from a massive forest fire burning nearby.

Of 136 forest fires currently burning in the province, the one 24 kilometres northeast of the reserve is the largest at 3,500 hectares, fire officials said.

About 80 firefighters are battling the fire, and the province is using water bombers and other aircraft to try and contain it.

Fire officials said they believe a person set the fire but can’t say yet whether they did so intentionally.

People living on the reserve were forced out largely because the smoke was so thick it presented a health hazard for people with respiratory problems.

Three planes were contracted to airlift them to Winnipeg, about 270 kilometres southwest of the reserve.

Rene McKay told CBC News he’s lived on the reserve all his life and has never seen such heavy smoke.

“Never — not that close anyway. It was quite heavy, McKay said.

Officials said the fire poses no threat to homes or other buildings in the community.

The fire risk is high throughout the area because it has been an extremely dry spring, officials said.Billowing smoke from the fire forced the province to airlift 55 people from the community on Wednesday night. Billowing smoke from the fire forced the province to airlift 55 people from the community on Wednesday night. (Province of Manitoba)

Read more:http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/05/20/man-berens-river-forest-fire.html#ixzz0pDI9Rvfp
 Billowing smoke from the fire forced the province to airlift 55 people from the community on Wednesday night. (Province of Manitoba)

Read more:http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/05/20/man-berens-river-forest-fire.html#ixzz0pDIsVG00
 


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