Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

Wildland Urban Interface

Richard Marinucci

It seems that the only types of fire incidents that are increasing are those involving wildland areas and the urban interface.

Certainly, those who regularly and routinely respond to those calls have received training and have a level of preparation that is more than the typical structural firefighter has. But, it appears that as the threats continue and more areas are subject to these types of fires, more structural firefighters will be asked to pitch in and offer assistance. There needs to be a basic awareness of circumstances and threats that can affect safety and operations. One would hope that there will be highly qualified incident commanders or incident management teams in charge, but they cannot control every individual operating on the scene. There needs to be a personal accountability.

Risk Assessment

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I am far from an expert on wildland fires. The largest fire of this type that I can remember was about 200 acres, and it was very early in my career. Since then, our community has built up, and I don’t think there are that many acres in one place anymore! But, I do believe that individuals and organizations need to continually assess the risks present in their communities and nearby. This is a hazard assessment and identifies events that have a chance to occur. It is really preincident planning and making sure that you have the minimum skills to abate an emergency without unduly endangering personnel. As such, there are many areas of this country that are subject to wildland fires that probably never thought this could happen.

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