April 11, 2011

Attack from the Black

Last Wednesday some of the members of my little rural volunteer fire department went to a planned meeting with the Forest Service at the station of Larger Volunteer Fire Department.

But when we arrived, we found about thirty people watching a Texas Forest Service video about fighting range fires. Summary: "Attack from the black."

There was someone from the TFS talking with disdain about how their rural volunteers would attack fires while riding on the outside of moving fire apparatus directing water onto the fire. Well, unless you have the latest models with cab-controlled nozzles on the bumper, sometimes you have to do that.

There was also the chief of one little department who, thinking that a paved road was enough of a fire break, had taken his brush truck to make a direct attack on the head of a moving fire—while wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no gloves.

He was wrapped in gauze past his elbows, and his face was a mosaic of peeling skin.

"Attack from the black" means get behind the flames and come up on them from the burned-over ground.

Meanwhile, it turned out that the Forest Service had rescheduled their 2011 fire-management presentation and had not told our chief. Maybe we will do it next week.

Via Wildfire Today, here is a slide show of a big range fire burning in grass and brush in Stonewall County, Texas. Commenters lament the lack of protective clothing: "Obviously this is how business is conducted in Texas."


Pagan In Paradise said...

As a member of the Southwest Type 1 Incident Management team I can confirm it is great advice. Older firefighters well always depart with the following advice: "keep one foot in the black"

My time as a volunteer firefighter is precious to me. Thanks for all you do! from a brother firefighter

Kirk said...

I well remember the retired firefighter from a city department I worked with telling us to fight a fire head on. If I listened to him I would be dead now.

And I can't remember how much equipment I was able to get from other departments to help the smaller, less well moneyed towns.

Being a vollie was fun and frustrating at times,I commend you on keeping up the battle.

Chas S. Clifton said...

The news from Texas is absolutely chilling.

Forty-foot flame heights ... A fire moving 21 miles in 30 minutes ... there is not much you can do.