Yesterday was a red flag day all across Virginia, departments all over the state were having significant events and this was no different here in Central Va. My department was bombarded with not only our own calls for service but mutual aide requests well into the night.
It may be hard to think that Virginia has a true wildland fire season but it does and we are in the thick of it. However when the humidity gets low we always have an increased chance for brush fires just like a day back in July that I detailed here: http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/brush-fire-day/ One of the things I brought up in my post is about proper PPE usage. I know that it may be controversial and I have read in other blogs what they recommend for PPE usage. To reiterate my department does not issue wildland firefighting gear, the only thing we have is our structural PPE. So the only thing we have to protect us from any sort of fire either brush/woods/or building is our regular PPE. Not to rehash the other post but if it comes down to having nothing but station wear that will offer ZERO thermal protection, or structural firefighting PPE you can bet your last pay check that I am going to be in my PPE.
We did not have the chance to respond to any of the major incidents yesterday, my day was filled with chasing smoke in the area calls, and backfilling stations. We did however have to respond back out to an early fire in our district that was still smoking a few hours later. This county tour made me realize that my preparation is in the right direction. We knew on Thursday it was going to be a “Red Flag” day so I came to work prepaired with a cooler and water jug. Once the calls started rolling in I packed some snacks in the cooler, and filled up the jug, this was a life saver at 8pm and we were still at a different station trying to figure out where we were going next.
Moral of the story is when you get advanced warning make sure you take it for what it is and prepair for it. Its like seeing a column of smoke off in the distance, if you do not take that warning sign as a chance to get fully geared up, and figure out your water supply plan then everyone/everything is going to suffer (you, your crew, your performance, your attitude, your reputation, etc.) If it turns out to be nothing then that’s great, but if it turns out to be something then you are already a step ahead.
Please feel free to share any tips, tricks, or methods that you are using on days like this, just drop us a line in the comments section. As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!