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Forest Fire June Issue

 

2014 ISSUE 5 JUNE 27, 2014

In this Issue:ForeF

Forest Fire June Issue

2013 By The Numbers

2013 By The Numbers

14,454
calls to the Provincial Forest Fire Reporting

Centre.

Over 22,000 Facebook Followers

Over 5000 Twitter Followers

1,020 Wildland Firefighters in the Province, including

214 in Coastal

The ten year average
for the Coastal Fire Centre is 267 fires per year.

Fire Management Plan versus Fire Analysis

1.4 million website hits … average of 4300 hits per day

Total 2013 Provincial Firefighting Cost: $122.2 million

7 million litres of retardant

dropped

Unlike the Fire Management Plan, a Fire Analysis is site specific and produced in direct response to a wildfire. It outlines strategies, objectives, tactics, and values-at-risk, and includes several options for consideration of the land manager and the fire response agency.

The Fire Analysis describes the complexities involved in managing a wildfire once it has ignited. It describes the overall control objectives and strategies, and also substantiates the expenditure of resources and dollars required to monitor, control or extinguish a fire.

Typically, a Fire Analysis is drawn up if a fire moves beyond the initial attack phase and into expanded attack, modified response, or fires with unique values.

A Fire Analysis is undertaken to outline the actions to be taken, the resources required and the cost required to manage the event. A specific accounting of all values at risk (e.g. timber, infrastructure) must be documented in order to determine specific location, prioritize values and to aid in communicating these details to the Fire Centre and the Land Manager.

The Fire Management Plan ensures the values and the objectives of the land manager are understood before any actions are taken. It also ensures that expenditures are justified (given the values that are threatened) and that the desired objectives are achievable.

ICS—Finance

Fire Management Plan

Fire Analysis (FAs)

A Fire Management Plan is a statement of policy with prescribed actions related to a specific piece of land. The plan is produced by the land manager to address potential fire activity on the land they are responsible for. This plan would include planning for both prescribed fires and wildfires.

Fire Management juxtaposes the effect of fire against potential values-at-risk, level of fire suppression warranted, cost of forest protection and other possible conditions and potential risks. A successful Fire Management Plan also takes into account fire prevention, detection and considers fire suppression capabilities.

A comprehensive Fire Management Plan may also include a Fire Suppression Plan. This document includes details about actions required to save human life and property and minimize any damage resulting from a fire. A Fire Suppression Plan may be more site specific than a Fire Management Plan. For example, a large provincial or federal park may have an overall Fire Management Plan with Fire Suppression Plans for areas of the park.

Simply put, a Fire Management Plan outlines the overall objectives and priorities of the land manager should a wildfire occur or (if conditions are favourable) a prescribed fire is conducted.

To Report a Wildfire: 18006635555 Or Cell *5555

See detailed weather forecast page 4

Page 1

To Report a Wildfire: 18006635555 Or Cell *5555

FYI:
The new Provincial Skimmer group worked an interface fire north of Kaslo mid June. Over a period of 75 minutes they delivered 224,361 litres of suppressant (foam/water). Turnaround times were 2 minutes, 101 loads in total.

Forest Fire June Issue

The Perils of Future Forecasting

“What will the fire season be like?”
You’d think this would be an easy question to

answer. Wildfire is our business, so shouldn’t the Wildfire Management Branch be able to predict how many fires this season will have, and approximately where?

The response back is “if you can tell us what key weather indicators (temperature, precipitation, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity) will be like at noon every day – at every weather station in the province – until October 1, we could answer that for you”.

Unfortunately, weather forecasting isn’t that exact. Environment Canada can indicate general trends, but providing precise data is impossible beyond even a day or two. A few degrees’ change in temperature and a few millimeters of rain can make a big difference.

It’s not just how much rain will fall, it’s also about when it falls. Precipitation that all falls on one day followed by a month of hot, dry weather could produce parched plants and extreme fire behavior. The same amount of precipitation spread out in weekly increments over the month could produce lush and moisture rich plants resistant to ignitions.

Of course, daily temperature, relative humidity and winds can either suck the moisture out of the soil and foliage of plants, or help to keep them hydrated.

The slope of the land, the aspect of the slope (south facing or north facing) are static – we know what these are. Forest cover changes slowly as trees are harvested or grow. The state of forest fuels, and their “willingness” to burn, is driven by the weather.

The Build Up Index (BUI) is watched closely by fire professionals at this time of year. It’s a measure of how dry the forest fuels are, from the huge trees to large downed logs, shrubs, roots and humus in the soil. The BUI indicates how much fuel will be available to burn in the event of a wildfire.

The higher the BUI, the harder it will be to extinguish the fire. High BUIs may lead to extensive mop-up, as crews dig up roots and buried fuels, break apart large logs, then wet them down and, if needed, bury them to prevent re-ignition of the fire.

The BUI this year is about two weeks ahead of normal. In other words, forest fuels are as dry today (June 27) as they normally are on July 11. If we have a wet period in July, the question is moot – the BUI will reduce as forest fuels rehydrate. If we don’t get substantial rain in July, we may enter into late summer with a dry forest. BUIs take a while to build, and also take a while to

decline. It takes steady precipitation to reduce them significantly, not isolated showers.

Being cautious with any ignition source in the forest is a habit that needs to be reinforced. Cultivating safe habits that are applicable any time of the year is work we can all do. Sparks come from lightning or human activity. Lightning is weather-driven and is unpredictable. The rest is dependent on people’s actions. It all starts with you.

When I was a kid, I watched my grandpa prime an old hand pump near the garden. The leather seal on the piston in the pipe had dried and shrunk, and the “prime” had leaked out. The seal no longer produced an air tight fit, and pumping the pump produced no water. A small pail of water, dribbled down the centre of the pump, re-primed the pump. Then it

just took my willing hands to pump the handle up and down, and out gushed water. It took two things to get the water running: a primed pump, and my efforts.

The priming of the forest fuels is done by weather. Hot days, dry air, wind and lack of precipitation all combine to produce forest fuels that are susceptible to ignition and prone to continue burning once they are lit.

But forest fires don’t happen without a spark. Naturally occurring sparks are predominately lightning. Weather conditions (sufficient lift in a column of air to produce cumulonimbus clouds, and enough moisture to produce positive and negative charges) can produce electrical discharges between the ground and clouds.

If these discharges travel through susceptible trees, a forest fire can result. Often these fires are in remote locations (on tops of mountains for example), which might prove beneficial to forest health and be allowed to burn naturally.

People’s activities in the forest can also produce sparks. Poorly situated campfires or ones that are not extinguished are likely culprits, but other activities can also produce ignition sources. Cigarettes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and chainsaws all produce sparks. A huge problem with human caused fires is they happen where people are. These fires are often the costliest to extinguish, and can cause the most impact to people, families and communities.

We can’t control lightning, but each of us can control what we do. As we experience drier forest fuels on the coast, we can all do our part to protect some of the most spectacular forested lands in the world. Don’t be the spark!

Page 2

It all starts with you: Ignitions

The BUI, and why it matters this summer

To Report a Wildfire: 18006635555 Or Cell *5555

Prescribed Fire

Pemberton – Haylmore Project

To understand where and why prescribed fires are undertaken, you must first familiarize yourself with what a prescribed fire is (and the fact that it is just one component of a prescription).

 Prescription – A written statement defining the objectives to be attained and the factors involved in aspects such as prescribed fire and silvicultural treatments. The objectives are generally expressed as acceptable ranges of the various indices being used, and the limit of the geographic area affected.*

 Prescribed Fire – The planned use of carefully controlled fire to accomplish predetermined management goals (e.g., site preparation for planting, reduction of fire hazards or pest problems, improvement of the ease with which the site can be traversed, and creation of better quality browse for wildlife).*

Traditional burning practices among aboriginal peoples were carefully orchestrated, paying close attention to season of the year, moisture levels, location, vegetation, habitats, weather and the accumulation of debris. These are some of the same factors wildland firefighters use to determine the timing, location and size of today’s prescribed burns. Although many groups of aboriginal peoples within what is now known as the Coastal Fire Center, did not use fire to enhance or maintain their resources, a select few did.

*Dunster, Julian and Katherine. Dictionary of Natural Resource Management. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1996), 249-250.

Prior to European settlement, the N’Quatqua First Nation implemented large-scale, low intensity burns to remove undergrowth and encourage berry production. This practice combined with the natural fire environment, resulted in significant fire history in the area. A large proportion of the landscape impacted by low-severity and frequent fires, consistent with documented fire regimes for this area. Practices over the last 100 years, including logging and fire suppression, have resulted in forest fuel

accumulations and increased fire hazard.
From May 7, 2014 to May 30, 2014, the Coastal Fire Centre’s Pemberton Zone in concert with

the N’Quatqua Band Council and the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C., conducted a series of prescribed fires, which are defined as part of a larger prescription in the area known as Haylmore near the communities of D’Arcy and Devine. The burns covers approximately 40 hectares of the prescription. When complete, the prescribed fires will burn the forest understory, leaving larger trees intact, and will help restore open forest conditions to reduce fire behaviour and enhance berry production.

By mimicking naturally occurring ground fires the goal of this prescription is to reduce the level of combustible forest debris. The removal of this debris will help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, discourage insect infestations and help a variety of fire-adapted plants reproduce. This prescribed burn will reintroduce fire into the ecosystem and return the area to a more natural state.

‘Low and slow’ were the watchwords as crews endeavoured to influence flame length, fire temperature and rate of spread. The goal was to target forest undergrowth while minimizing tree charring and mortality. Portable weather stations and crews monitored weather conditions closely, and crews monitored weather conditions closely, and crews were very involved in fire sciences to achieve objectives.

A total of 13 hectares of land were treated over 13 days that were suitable for burning. The burning was very successful, and fuel consumption targets were achieved.

The prescription will be revisited in the fall of 2014, or spring of 2015, to further achievements if possible.

Page 3

To Report a Wildfire: 18006635555 Or Cell *5555

To Date in Coastal

ICS—Finance

Fires to Date

Person Caused

Total Number of Fires

35

Lighting Caused

4

39

Number of Incidents Responded to

116

The identifying colour for Finance in ICS is Silver.

Fire Danger Rating today

Current Prohibitions (within WMB jurisdictional area)

At Coastal

Weather

Category 2 Open Fire

During a fire where the Incident Command System is in use, the Finance Section on a fire takes on the role of coordinator, planner and controller for all aspects of finance and administration for the duration of the incident.

These responsibilities, under the Finance Section Chief, include: updating the Fire Analysis Cost Estimate, by submitting daily cost information, providing ongoing cost analysis, developing contracts, tracking time for personnel and maintaining financial records of the incident. The Finance Section also ensures that all financial policies and procedures are being adhered to on the incident.

On a large incident, Finance can be expanded to include: a Time Unit, a Procurement Unit, a Compensation and Claims Unit and a Cost Unit. Each Unit has a very specific task.

The Provincial Airtanker Centre (PATC) hosted a demonstration of its new Skimmer Group for fire crews in Campbell River on June 24, 2014. Besides a chance to tour the new aircraft, crews were able to witness drops with both water and foam to get a better understanding of how the machines deliver their loads.

Due to the weather, the number of fires has been down from our 10 year average of 54 fires to 39 fires, person- caused fires are down from 43 fires to 35 fires, and lightning-caused fires are down from 10 fires to 4 fires.

The Coastal Fire Centre has been assisting a number of Fire Departments as many of the 39 fires have occurred in fire department jurisdiction. One interesting side note is that in one of these fires, located near Triangle Mountain, was within a Gary Oak preserve, so no digging, foam or retardant, was used to put out the fire – only water. The fire has been turned back over to the Fire Department for patrol.

The Time Unit ensures that all documentation for pay is recorded and tracked. The Procurement Unit processes all documentation to do with equipment rental and supply contracts. The Compensation/ Claims Unit handles all WorkSafe claims and any claims to damaged property which may be associated with the incident. The Cost Unit collects all information dealing with costs, provides estimates and recommends savings, wherever and whenever, suitable.

Large fires can cost millions of dollars to manage and they can produce thousands of documents, so it is up to the Finance Section to manage and document all financial matters on the incident.

SYNOPSIS: A fast moving front blasted through Coastal zones overnight bringing a few millimetres of rain, occasional gusty winds and wide spread lightning strikes many of them positive. Over the northern sec- tions much of the lightning does not appear to have come with significant rainfall. In the wake of the front a low pressure centre spinning offshore brings a moist onshore flow both today and tomorrow. The air mass continues very unstable and its likely that widespread thunderstorms build up this afternoon and possibly to- morrow as well. These storms should bring locally in- tense showers with some stations seeing 5 to 10 millime- tres or more. The onshore flow eases late Saturday as a new ridge develops and pushes the wet zone to the north. OUTLOOK: A few showers continue, especially north- ern zones, on Sunday morning but as the ridge builds, and builds quickly, the skies clear by Sunday afternoon. Monday and Tuesday will see mostly sunny warm con- ditions with temperatures in the warmer interior valleys rising into the upper 20s.

6 TO 10 DAY: But by next Wednesday a new low deep- ens in the Gulf of Alaska and drifts southeast to the west coast bringing showers at first to Haida Gwaii and the Mid-coast but inevitably to the southern zones by later in the week. Models show a new strong ridge

redeveloping over the weekend of July 6-7.

 

About Sproat Lake Community Association

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