January 24, 2013

Preparing for the Spring Offensive

While I squirmed in an uncomfortable plastic chair at this month's county emergency services board meeting on Wednesday, Colorado's Front Range had its first "red flag" fire warning of the year.

In January.

I think that only my friends in Southern California and Australia realize how scary that is.

We talked about the usual issues: training exercises, communications, dealing with the state and feds, money, law-enforcement issues, and again, communications.

Discussion circled around what I call the "two-radio problem." We are supposed to use a simplex channel for tactical communication on the federally mandated 800 mhz radios, and another shared channel for talking to the dispatcher and other agencies.

Fine, except that with small, volunteer departments, the incident commander (IC) is usually also a hands-on firefighter. We don't have a couple of people sitting in an SUV bristling with antennas, handling command and communications. (Switching channels involves looking at tiny print and turning two knobs.)

The IC is usually yelling over the racket of pumps and maybe the roar of flames. If he or she can manage one radio, that is doing pretty well. So we hope for the best. The first hour (if not more) at a fire is usually chaotic anyway.

Last Saturday, at the fire house, we loaded everything back into the water tender that had been out of service for some engine repairs. I drove it a couple of miles up the road and back — it ran well. But when I pressed the  electric "start' button on the pump, nothing happened. It had never been reconnected. It is connected now.

And then we all go home and wonder if the spring snows will ever come.

Today was windy, and M. and I were both on edge. It seems like we cannot look forward to summer anymore — gardening, eating outdoors, going places. We can only wonder how bad things will be.


Luisa said...

Holy crap. Hang in there. Raining in SoCal right now -- wish I could send some your way.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I wish you could too!

What we need is a low pressure system in the Texas panhandle with high pressure over western Nebraska to run some moist air into the Rocky Mountains!

jason said...

Yes we do!