Mission Statement

My mission is to explore the lives and experiences of firefighters in the quest to join their prestigious ranks.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Wildland Season is Coming to an End

We're getting away from the season of wild land fires and our wildlanders are coming home. So before I get into anything else I just want to recognize that.

Without you wildlanders putting yourselves on the line,
we wouldn't be safe in our homes in the wildland interface. 

We have wildland firefighters to thank for saving the water supply of the San Francisco area, and they have something to thank for the effectiveness of their activities.

New mapping technology was able to help the commanding officers of the Rim Fire, which was burning 250,000 acres in California, to decide exactly where to have 3 DC-10 fire retardant drop planes to place their payload.  This in combination with the activities of the ground support was able to halt the fire and save the water supply from being contaminated with soot.

This is all due to the fact that commanding officers had up to date information that has been beyond luxury in the past.  In situations like this the command posts would receive reports on paper every twelve hours hoping to keep further updated by intermittent radio traffic.

Esri, Rim Fire Map
With cell phone technology on their side, firefighters are able to paint a much more specific picture of the roaring fire. 

This is an awesome step not only to help us fight fires more effectively, but in our ability to better predict the actions of wildfires.  Which to me, the most important side effect is that it gives us the ability to protect the firefighters who are out there protecting us.


Solar Panels are now threatening the ability of firefighters to protect a structure.  Due to the fact that solar panels energy receiving technology cannot be disabled, firefighters cannot be effective in many vertical ventilation tactics (one of the ways the firefighters remove heat and smoke from a structure to make the environment safer to work in, or even safer for civilians to survive in.)

In Delanco, New Jersey volunteer firefighters encountered solar panels on the roof and had to switch to a defensive tactic.  Now just because firefighters are going defensive does not mean that if they are able to change the conditions of the fire in their favor enough that they cannot switch back into an offensive attack.  But in the case of the Dietz & Watson warehouse, Delanco Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hubler said, "Do I think we'd have had a different outcome if we could get on the roof? Sure."

This is an interesting problem because most people understand solar panels to be the clean, money saving, green energy source that will effectively fuel our electrical needs.  But they have found that even the light from a flashlight carried by a firefighter gives a solar panel enough charge to be hazardous to firefighter safety.  

An additional problem is that solar panels add weight to a roof, and if solar panels were installed after the house was build then it is safe to say the the load on the roof is not designed, or simply, more likely to collapse sooner during the evolution of a house fire.


This is an interesting challenge that firefighters everywhere are already trying to figure out how to defeat, and I for one am very interested to see what the community comes up with in light of this hurdle.

Solar panels big issue for fire fighters 


The roof is on fire: Do solar panels hinder firefighters?

On a side note, I intend in the next week to start a blog documenting my road to elite physical fitness to give myself a sort of social obligation to continue to work hard at being better at being who I need to be. I would love for anyone and everyone to be a part of the journey with me.