Hot Off the Press!
We have just received 10,000 copies (that's 40 extremely heavy boxes) of the first ever Hawaii version of the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.
We encourage every household and landowner/manager in the state of Hawaii to get a hold of the guide.
In this Action Guide, we hope to provide tips and tools you need to prepare for a wildland fire threat (Ready), have situational awareness when a fire starts (Set), and to act early (Go!).
Contact us if you would like copies to distribute to your friends, family members, neighbors, or anyone else you can think of. We are also able to hold Ready, Set, Go! workshops upon request. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming workshops and events where we will be handing out the guides. Or, come by our office in Waimea (Kamuela) where we have boxes full of the guides!
Mahalo to IAFC for spearheading the collaboration and arranging for the massive print-job!
Ready, Set, Go!
Stay Hot on our
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Waikoloa
When: July 23rd
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Waikoloa Community Association Community Room
68-1792 Melia St.
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Volcano
When: July 25th
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Cooper Center
19-4030 Wright Rd.
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Pahala
When: July 28th
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Pahala Elementary School
96-3150 Pikake Pl.
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Waimea
When: July 29th
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Thelma Parker Memorial Library
67-1209 Mamalahoa Hwy.
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Kona
When: July 31st
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Civic Center Liquor Control Conference Room
(2nd Floor of Building B)
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy.
Reay, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Kealakekua
When: August 4th
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Konawaena Elementary School
81-901 Onouli Rd.
Ready, Set, Go! Community Wildfire Preparedness - Kona
When: August 6th
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Where: Hawaii Community College West Hawaii Campus
81-964 Halekii St.
Monitoring for Success
When: August 17, 2014
Presenter: Dr. Marc Horney, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo
Sponsor: Targeted Grazing Committee of the Society for Range Management
User Needs Assessment Workshop for the Rangeland Vegetation Simulator
When: September 19th
Time: 8-4:30 p.m.
Where: RMRS HQ, Fort Collins, CO
July 4th Parker Ranch Rodeo & Horse Races 7/7/14
HWMO teamed up this past weekend with its long-time partner Parker Ranch to run the July 4th Rodeo and Horse Races Food Drive at the Parker Ranch Arena in Waimea. Visitors hauled in 4 large boxes full of canned goods for Kokua Christian Ministries, a non-profit that distributes food to those in need within the Waimea, Waikoloa, and Kohala area. In addition to the food drive, HWMO's Pablo Beimler, Tyler McCullough, Elizabeth Pickett, and Tom Loomis distributed Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Guides and the newly created HWMO Fireworks Safety Brochures (http://www.scribd.com/doc/231506894/Fireworks-Safety-Brochure-Hawaii-County) to numerous families along with the all-too-addicting Smokey the Bear frisbees, among other goods. Community members also stopped by to jot down on colorful paper cards what they cared about most in Hawaii and why, as part of an art project HWMO is currently assembling (more details to come.) The cards also doubled as lottery tickets, offering visitors the chance to win either a free HWMO T-shirt or a free defensible space home assessment conducted by HWMO's knowledgable staff members. The exciting rodeo event was a great success even with the rain and wind that created logistical obstacles for HWMO, which the staff was craftily able to overcome.
NOAA National Weather Service Drought Presentation 6/24/14
Forecasting droughts can play a significant role in determining the severity of the next fire season. With this in mind, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, represented by Planning Assistant Ilene Grossman, attended NOAA's National Weather Service Drought Presentation at the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) building on the wet side of Waimea. A solid core of representatives from various agencies were in attendance: NOAA National Weather Service, State Commission on Water Resources Management, DHHL, UH Manoa, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Mauna Kea Soil & Water Conservation District, Civil Defense, and Hawaii Department of Agriculture (DOA). Malama Solomon, State Senator representing District 4, also attended the meeting. One of the hot topics of the meeting was the possibility of a strong El Niño this year. NOAA's predictions point to severe drought conditions and a more active hurricane season in the Central Pacific. Attendees gathered together for a round table discussion to give agency updates on how the drought would affect their resources and what they would need to respond appropriately. HWMO was honored to be a part of such a critical discussion and is looking forward to future collaborations with the attendees and their respective agencies and groups.
NOAA Interactive Mapping Project for South Kohala Meeting 6/18/14
HWMO is getting involved in an exciting new collaborative interactive mapping project. Elizabeth, Orlando, and Pablo represented HWMO in a meeting at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Waimea with members from NRCS, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawaii Sea Grant, and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The eleven attendees began strategizing and providing input on a project that would sync data from a number of different agencies, groups, and organizations that work towards conserving the South Kohala region of the Big Island. NOAA would host an interactive map of South Kohala that would provide information on current projects, past research, management plans, site specifics, and other useful data that would be accessible to the public as a free information tool. The map would also increase the capacity for groups or individuals to share knowledge, increase collaborations, and fill in information and management gaps in the region. NOAA spearheaded the project as part of a combined Sentinel Site and Habitat Blueprint program in an effort to target specific regions across the U.S. showing that relevant advances in science can impact management and thus affect actual change. In Hawaii, these programs are being implemented in Midway and French Frigate Shoals in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Heʻeia Wetland Restoration project on Oʻahu, and South Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. NOAA's objectives for the program include focusing on coral reef health, reducing sedimentation, and mauka to makai connectivity; climate change; and community capacity (i.e. outreach, education, and training). HWMO is in full support of the mapping project as we find it will be an incredibly useful tool for the organization and for the managers and community members we represent.
Wildfire Preparedness Day 5/3/14
May 3rd was the first ever National Wildfire Preparedness Day! Communities from across the nation rallied to hold events to help raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects that protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities. HWMO organized a day of fire preparedness fun and festivities at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park in Waikoloa Village on Melia Street. HWMO partnered with Hawaii Fire Department, Waikoloa Community Association, Waikoloa Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, and Malama Kai Foundation to put on the event. As part of our prevention efforts, we created the first and only fire preparedness demonstration garden in Hawaii. The Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park demonstrates how to reduce the impacts of wildfires through defensible space, Firewise landscaping and fire resistant building materials. This garden is primarily made up of low-maintenance, native Hawaiian species that are resistant to drought, wind, and heat. The garden also exhibits Firewise principles including various landscaping techniques and maintenance guidelines for zones around the home: 10 ft., 30 ft., and 100+ ft. The event kicked off with a garden tour led by an Ocean Warriors student, followed by opening speeches from Hawaii Fire Department's Chief Darren Rosario, HWMO's Vice President Sam Patten, and HWMO's Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett. The crowd continued to grow as the opening ceremony progressed as more families arrived. To add to the excitement, Hawaii Fire Department's firefighters arrived in an ambulance and fire truck, segueing into the next activity: tours of the apparatuses. A dozen or so keiki met with firefighters to learn about the ins-and-outs of being a firefighter and the cool tools and devices they get to use. There were waves of smiles from the keiki, who were brimming from the excitement of such a unique opportunity to connect with the firefighting community. Following the firefighter meet-and-greet, the crowd gathered in the garden and began to plant the 230+ native dryland plants (including 'ihi, pohinahina, and 'ilima papa) that HWMO hauled in for the event. With the incredible help from our community members, we were able to plant each and every start in the garden - 230+ plants in under two hours of planting! After the plantings, the crowd moved under the tents for a craft event - Ocean Warriors, Future Foresters, and other keiki helpers designed and painted signs with wildfire prevention messages that will eventually be placed around the Waikoloa community. During the session, people grabbed delicious, organic Thai food, smoothies, and gelato from Lotus Cafe, who had set up a tent for the event. The event concluded with short talks by Jen Lawson of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, who explained the importance of restoring the native dry forest, and the Waikoloa CERT team, who ran through evacuation protocols and routes. On behalf of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and State Farm® Insurance, we received a $500 funding award for the event. The contest for the award was extremely competitive, spanning over 25 states - only 20 out of 84 projects were selected. This was a testament to how much progress has been made in adding Hawaii's wildfire issues to the national radar screen and how much more integrated Hawaii is in nationwide and Pacific-wide wildfire mitigation efforts. We'd like to send out a special thank you to NFPA and State Farm®, Lotus Cafe, our dedicated partners, and the enthusiastic community members who made Wildfire Preparedness Day a wonderful success! Mahalo! Another thanks to West Hawaii Today for covering the event on the front page of the Sunday paper! Read the article: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/helping-mother-nature-fight-fires-native-plant-landscapes-and-other-fire-resistant
CNH Forest Fire Council Training & Seminar 4/9-4/11/14
The Big Island's Waikoloa Beach Marriott played host to this year's California - Nevada - Hawaii Forest Fire Council Training and Seminar (April 9-11), drawing attendees from all over the three listed states and from the Pacific Islands. HWMO and PFX teamed up to set up a booth to disseminate information about Hawaii's wildfire issues and what's being done to mitigate them - as a highlight, PFX's first Fact Sheet was rolled out at the event: Wildfire in Hawaii (link). Day One kept the audience captivated with a variety of informative and exciting talks spanning the world over. Attendees were informed about the latest Australian bushfires (Richard Woods), East Bay Regional Park District's WUI projects (Brad Gallup), Maui Fire Department's IMT3 activities (Henry Lindo, Jr.), and the International ICS program operating in Indonesia, Vietnam, and a variety of other countries (Rusty Witwer). Paul Steensland and Alan Carlson brought the attendees along an exciting two-hour long ride through a twenty-year investigation and hunt for the Rumsey Canyon Serial Arsonist. Preceding these great presentations, Wayne Ching, Division of Forestry and Wildlife's long-standing and soon-to-retire Fire Management Officer, as well as organizer of this year's event, was honored by those in attendance. DOFAW's Protection Foresters from each main island, Patrick Porter (Kauai), Jay Hatayama (Hawaii Island), Ryan Peralta (Oahu), and Lance De Silva (Maui) led a few morning toasts to Wayne and his remarkable career. To cap off the tribute, all attendees simultaneously revealed red shirts with a picture of Mr. Ching and a list of major incidents he had worked on in his career, either wearing or waving the shirt in a sort of Red Shirt Salute. Click to read more.
Earth and Ocean Festival 4/12/14
HWMO and PFX hit the road for the Earth & Ocean Festival, which took place this year at the Makaeo Pavilion within the Old Kona Airport Park. The outreach event drew large crowds of people, many of whom stopped by the HWMO/PFX booth (over 120) to find out more about wildfires in Hawaii. Visitors of all ages payed close attention as Pablo Beimler, Education and Outreach Coordinator of HWMO and Coordination Assistant of PFX, explained Hawaii's wildfire issues and what HWMO and PFX are doing to address and mitigate those issues. Beimler handed out over 50 of the new Ready, Set, Go Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guides among other HWMO products. He also distributed a couple dozen of PFX's first Fact Sheets about Wildfire in Hawaii, authored by Clay Trauernicht (Co-coordinator of PFX and Wildfire Extension Specialist at UH Manoa, CTAHR). The keiki came to the booth in droves until there weren't any more Smokey magnets, frisbees, and bag clips to give out.
Western State Fire Managers Meeting - Puako Community Fuelbreak Tour 3/19/14
Based on great feedback from a collaborative lessons learned PFX Field Tour held on June 25, 2013 at Mauna Kea State Park on Hawaii Island to review a 2011 fire that exhibited extreme behavior and threatened human lives and critical habitat, Wayne Ching of Hawaii Department of Land Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife Fire decided to replicate the experience and discussion with Western State Fire Managers at their March meeting. The tour continued over to the Puako Community Fuelbreak where Peter Hackstedde, Puako Community Association President and a new addition to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization Board of Directors spoke about the fuelbreak efforts. Elizabeth Pickett, Executive Director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, chimed in about HWMO's funding and assistance of the project. She also detailed the HWMO and PFX organizations as a whole and their strong partnership with one another. In addition, Elizabeth presented the newly created and delivered Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guides and handed out copies to all of the managers, along with Overview Packets for HWMO and PFX. The group then took a driving tour through most of the fuelbreak, which runs 3 miles and borders along the entire Puako community, providing a buffer of at least 60-100 feet between houses and the mesquite (kiawe) forest.
Hawaii Community College (HCC) Career & Job Fair 3/17/14
HWMO and PFX spent the day in Hilo at the Hawaii Community College reaching out to the academic community about our wildfire efforts and the opportunities that exist in the wildfire and conservation realms. We were delighted to interact with a demographic that we aren't always able to target: college-aged students. Visitors were excited to learn about Hawaii's wildfire issues and what HWMO and PFX are doing to mitigate them. Many were interested in what job opportunities exist not just for HWMO and PFX, but in the wildfire and conservation world, as well. Interested students ranged from Agricultural Studies to Environmental Sciences to Fire Science. We also made valuable connections with UH faculty and staff members and Kamehameha Schools Career Academy, who were interested in partnering with HWMO and PFX to create job and internship opportunities for their students, and the Department of Health who was interested in connecting with HWMO for a Hawaii-specific Ready, Set, Go workshop tour. Stay tuned for job and internship opportunity postings and for our next booth event!
With Hawaii's Year-Round Fire Season, Residents are Urged to Prepare 7/23/14
Hawaii Wildfire hits the front pages again. Read about how the upcoming wildfire preparedness workshops will prepare you far in advance of a wildfire occurring in your area. From the Source: "Heavy brush resulting from recent rains, followed by abnormal dryness, has created the ideal conditions for wildfire, and a Waimea-based nonprofit is urging residents to take precautions before the threat occurs. Inside the Ocean View Community Center Monday evening, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization shared details from its latest wildland fire action guide, with hopes of getting the public to prepare and remember its message of “Ready, Set, Go!” This was the first in a series of hour-long workshops, happening now through Aug. 6 islandwide. Fire season in Hawaii is a year-round reality, said Elizabeth Pickett, the organization’s executive director. Fires have increased in size, frequency and intensity on all islands over the years, particularly as towns expand into formerly undeveloped places and areas of fallow, invasive or unmanaged vegetation, and as human-caused fires, such as roadside ignitions, have increased. Pickett also explained how nonnative, fire-adapted vegetation has rapidly spread, not just through wildland landscapes, but also in communities. She said these nonnative grasslands and shrubs now cover nearly a quarter of Hawaii’s total land area, and together with a warming, drying climate, greatly increase fire incidence..." - West Hawaii Today
Baldwin Ave Closure the Result of Brush Fire 7/10/14
These are the sort of complications from wildfire that the brand new Western Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan seeks to address. From the Source: "A closure of Baldwin Avenue for about 20 minutes this morning was the result of a nearby brush fire. Paia firefighters responded to a brush fire along the east side of Baldwin Avenue below Holomua Road at 11:41 a.m. Thursday, July 10, according to Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga. An area about 1200 square feet of light brush and dry grass was involved, he said. Crews extinguished the blaze and no injuries or property damage were reported by fire officials. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time." - Maui Now
Da Glow of Mem'ry 7/1/14
Wildfire is a complex issue with many components - everyone has their own perspective about it. Here's an interesting, creative piece written by a local actress, storyteller, and cofounder of Manaʻo Radio named Kathy Collins (a.k.a. Tita). From the Source: "Ho boy, dis cane burnin’ contra-versy get me all mix up. My head an’ my heart stay leanin’ opposite ways. My head know dat smokin’ is bad fo’ yo’ health. Ev’rybody know dat, even da guys who smoke. An’ even if cane smoke not da same as cigarette smoke, I t’ink any kine smoke not good. Dass jus’ common sense. An’ yet, in all da time I wen’ grow up ovah here, I no remembah evah getting sick from da cane fire smoke. All my fam’ly an’ friends too, same t’ing. Even my grandfaddah, who used to clean da humongous smokestacks at da sugar mill, he nevah did get da kine lung problems in his whole life. An’ he wen’ live till ninety. So even if I know in my head dat da cane fire smoke is bad, my heart no believe. Growin’ up on Maui, cane burnin’ was jus’ one noddah part a life, like mango season, or wintah surf, or da Civil Dafense warning sirens dat go off on da firs’ workin’ day of da month. Nobody talk about changin’ ‘em. Dass jus’ how was. Once in a while, my faddah would grumble about da cane fires, but wasn’t da smoke dat wen’ boddah him, was da Maui snow. When da wind blow one certain way, da black ash would come float inside da garage, an’ den my faddah had to hose off da garage floor, ‘cause da ash too light fo’ sweep. Sometimes my maddah, too, would grumble when da HC&S guy come around, door to door, wit’ da pepa dat tell us goin’ get cane fire da next day. No can wash clothes on burn days, unless you like black streaks all ovah yo’ stuffs. Me, I was happy, ‘cause hangin’ up da laundry was my job." - Maui Magazine
Wildfire Preparedness Workshops Planned Islandwide 7/5/14
Find out more about our upcoming workshops on our Upcoming Events page. From the Source: "Hawaii is no stranger to its residents experiencing close calls with wildfires. In recent years, large fires have occurred in North and South Kohala, North and South Kona, and Ka‘u. Of note, the Waikoloa Fires of 2005 and 2007 would have engulfed the town of Waikoloa Village had first responders not been able to defend the village along its recently completed firebreaks. Every family, resident, and large landowner can avoid the danger and impacts of wildfire with adequate preparation.Unlike other natural hazards, wildfire is unique in that there are many things you can do ahead of time to reduce your risk of losing property or loved ones. Residents can take charge by strategically reducing vegetation around homes, fire-proofing homes and structures with non-combustible materials, and creating and practicing a thorough family emergency plan. Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Waimea, will be hosting a series of free community wildfire preparedness workshops in some of the most fire-prone areas of the Big Island. Those who attend will learn about Hawaii’s wildfire issues and how they can mitigate those issues through proper home landscaping techniques and home structure modifications. They will also learn about how to develop a clear and achievable family emergency plan, what actions to take during a wildfire, and proper evacuation procedures...Click to Read More
Fireworks Implicated in First of Two Kahului Fires 7/4/14
Find out more about fireworks safety guidelines, so we can help prevent these types of wildfires. From the Source: "Two fires in Kahului burned a total of 3.5 acres on the 4th of July public holiday, fire officials reported. Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said the first fire occurred near the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course restaurant. While working the Maui Lani brush fire, fire fighters were alerted to another brush fire at nearby Mahaolu and Hoomuku Streets. Engine companies from Kahului, Wailuku, Makawao, and Air-1 arrived to an area east of the restaurant, with approximately 3 acres of dry brush involved in fire. The first fire was called under control at 12:20 p.m. Crews were reported as still on scene as of mid-afternoon conducting mop up operations. Fire officials reported that no structures were threatened and no damages were reported. The cause of the fire was determined to be fireworks related. Evidence of fireworks were found on scene during the investigation. In the Mahaolu and Hoomuku Street fires, fire officials say crews responded and arrived to find an area about a half acre in size involved. This fire was also called under control at 12:20 pm and called extinguished at 12:52 p.m. No damages or injuries were reported. The cause of the second fire is undetermined and is still under investigation."
Puppy Saved in Fire That Destroys Home 6/28/14
Pay close attention to the final paragraph (Red Cross' guidelines for disaster planning.) From the Source: "A midday fire destroyed a three-bedroom home in the upper Kaumana area of Hilo on Friday. No one was home when the blaze broke out at 143 Kualua Place, according to homeowner Jackie Uemura. “Just a puppy,” she said, and added the animal was unharmed. “We’re very thankful the fireman found the puppy.” Fire Capt. David Minor described the house as “a total loss.” “When we pulled up to the front, the house was fully engulfed,” he said. “It was flaming from both sides. We worked to protect the houses on both sides from exposure (to the flames) and worked our way in closer. “It went up really fast.” Police closed nearby Pulima Drive to traffic between Kuakolu Street and Country Club Drive for about two hours while firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading to nearby homes. Fire inspectors were investigating Friday afternoon but hadn’t yet determined the cause of the fire. Uemura said her son and his family lived at the home which the family built in 1976. “You always think this is going to happen to somebody else,” Uemura said, tearfully. According to county property tax records, the assessed value of the 1,200-square-foot home with carport was $95,800. American Red Cross volunteers responded to help the displaced family with emergency food, shelter and clothing. Caseworkers will continue to follow up with anyone affected in the coming weeks to provide referrals, guidance or additional assistance as needed to help with the recovery process. The Red Cross encourages all families to make a disaster plan to include an evacuation plan with two routes of escape, a communications plan to help families reconnect after disaster and a readily available disaster supplies kit. Information on developing a family plan is available at redcross.org; a brochure can be requested by calling 734-2101." - West Hawaii Today
Fireworks Permits Go on Sale Sunday (June 29) 6/26/14
Help prevent wildfire and injuries this Fourth of July by complying with county laws and HFD's guidelines. From the Source: "Fire Chief Darren Rosario announced that fireworks permits will be issued beginning Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the following locations for the upcoming 4th of July celebration. The sites are: • Pinky’s store in Papaikou (808-964-5858); • Hawai‘i Fire Administration Office at 25 Aupuni St. Monday-Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each permit costs $25.00 and will entitle the holder to purchase up to 5,000 individual firecrackers. Permits will be issued to persons 18 years of age or older and are non-transferable, and non-refundable. Setting off of fireworks is allowed only between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on July 4th. Permits should be visibly displayed at the site of use on July 4th, at the time of the firing. Permits are not required for novelties and paperless firecrackers. Fireworks sales will begin on June 29, 2014 and will end at 8:00 p.m. on July 4, 2014. The ban of consumer fireworks on Oahu does not affect Hawai‘i County. Firecrackers (with a valid permit), and consumer fireworks are allowed to be set off during the approved hours of 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on July 4th only. Please be advised that it is unlawful to buy, sell, possess, or set off any Aerial Luminary Device such as Sky Lanterns and Hawai‘i Lanterns. Any person in possession of any Aerial Luminary Device, who would like to dispose of it with amnesty, can contact the Fire Department at 932-2912. Chief Rosario reminds the public that it is illegal for anyone to: • Remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any fireworks; • Throw fireworks from a vehicle; • Set off any fireworks: • At any time not within the time period allowed; • Within 1,000 feet of any operating hospital, nursing home, home for the elderly or animal hospital; • In or on any school building or property; • On any highway, alley, street, sidewalk or other public way • In any park, or within 1,000 feet of a church during the periods when services are held. • It is illegal for any person to offer for sale, sell, or give any fireworks to minors, and for any minor to possess, sell, set off, ignite, or otherwise cause to explode any fireworks, except under the immediate supervision of an adult." - Hawaii 24/7
Cambra and Ayakawa Promoted to Battalion Chief 6/25/14
Congratulations are in order for Maui Fire Department's newest Battalion Chiefs. Ho'omaika'i 'ana! From the Source: "Maui County Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray today announced the promotion of Captains Wayne Cambra and Ryan Ayakawa to the rank of Battalion Chief. Cambra is a 24 year veteran of the department, serving as a Firefighter I at the Wailuku and Lānaʻi Fire Stations. In 1999, he was promoted to Firefighter III, Apparatus Operator, spending three years in the Training Bureau, and five years at the Wailuku Fire Station. Cambra is currently assigned to the Wailuku Fire Station 2nd Battalion, B Watch. Ayakawa also joined the department in 1990, serving initial assignments at the Lahaina and Kīhei Fire Stations. After eight years as a Firefighter 1, he was promoted to the Rescue Company, and was promoted again in 2000 to a Firefighter 3 at the Lahaina Station. Ayakawa also served for the last nine years as a captain, working at both the Nāpili and Lahaina Fire Stations. In announcing the promotions, Chief Murray said that both men are well deserving and also bring experience, energy, and competence to their new positions. Cambra and Ayakawa will officially start their new positions on July,1, 2014."
Burn, Baby, Burn - if We Say So 7/4/14
From the Source: "What strategy might evolve for the Western wildlands? The old fire exclusion paradigm had clarity—a bogus simplicity, but one easily communicated and measured. What has emerged to replace it can seem muddled and tricky to explain. The reality is that fire suppression remains dominant nationally, though it has acquired a lighter hand in the backcountry and a heavier one near exurbs. The other reality is that every wildland fire put out is a fire put off. Fire agencies now face a phalanx of changes that are powering conflagrations—not only the legacy of stockpiled fuels but also climate change, invasive species, a fractal exurban sprawl, and political gridlock. With no single cause, there is no single solution. Fire officers look instead for pragmatic responses, adapted to particular circumstances." "Critics dismiss the outcome as a muddle, but others put a positive spin on it, arguing that it’s more of a mashup. They point out that the country does not have a fire problem: It has many fire problems, all of which require different approaches. In the public lands of the West, the options are few. Fire officers will have to manage their lands with the fires they get, not the ones they would like. In many wildlands they will work with fires that start from any source and “box” them in according to natural or built features that allow easier control. They will then burn out from those perimeters and fire out the interiors. This approach, officially known as “confine and contain,” unofficially as “box and burn,” is likely to become the primary strategy for managing fires in the West. This video demonstrates how a hybrid approach, including “box and burn,” was applied to the recent Slide fire outside Sedona, Arizona." "So expect plenty of fires this season. Expect burns that make 1977’s 178,000-acre Marble Cone fire seem unexceptional. Expect critics to harp on wishy-washy policies and a lack of airtankers. Hope that we don’t see communities blown away or crews burned over. Then get used to it. It’s what the future of fire in the West will look like." - Slate
Fighting Wildfire With Satellites, Lasers and Drones 7/9/14
How technology is improving the ability to spot out wildfires - the challenge: getting that "information into the hands of the firefighters." From the Source: "Fire lookout technology has changed a lot since Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. The book was taken almost entirely from a diary Kerouac kept when he was fire lookout for 63 days on Desolation Peak in Washington. Now, satellite images, fuel analysis, and, soon, the use of drones, are among the high-tech methods for protecting wilderness and civilization from wildfires. Some of the more important real-time fire data comes from MODIS, a sensor on two NASA satellites that view the entire Earth’s surface every one to two days. The sensors show heat sources (that’s how a fire was first spotted in Noatak, Alaska by a fire manager looking at the data in the early 2000s). It was the first time a fire had been detected by satellite before humans noticed it, says Sean Triplett, the group leader for geo-spatial and information management at the U.S. Forest Service. 'Alaska is huge,' Triplett says. 'It’s a long flight from one side of the state to the other. MODIS was really able to allow us to cover the whole state really quickly, since it sees a larger area.' After a fire, the U.S. Geological Survey’s LANDSAT satellite can be used to determine the severity of the burn by comparing a pre-fire photo of an area to a post-fire one. The differences in brightness allow scientists to determine the normalized burn ratio, as well as to reflect the changes on the ground." - The Daily Beast
A Year After Deadly Wildfire: 'Some Recovery, But...' (VIDEO) 6/29/14
Video on how a fence brought together a town after one of the worst firefighting tragedies in American history. Article digs into the long, difficult process of mourning after such an incident. From the Source: "A year ago they arrived with heads bowed, hands held. The air was silent because no one knew what to say. They parked their pickups, their SUVs, their sedans outside Mile High Middle School, and when every last space was occupied, they parked along narrow side streets and vacant lots. Lights blazed from the auditorium, a beacon to those who wanted to be anywhere else. A few hours earlier on a day that soon would appear on marquees, banners and T-shirts — June 30, 2013 — friends and loved ones of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew gathered to hear the worst news possible. Nineteen had perished at the Yarnell Hill Fire, trapped by flames that moved so quickly several of them had not even deployed their fire shelters. The grief began there, and spread through the city, to the vigil sites, to the public square where the hearses passed by, to the arena where thousands would gather to say goodbye. Nearly a year later, the scenes that contained the drama of those days largely are devoid of reminders of those early days. But the number 19 still has only one meaning in Prescott, and it reverberates as strongly today as it did then." - USA Today
Dad Of Fallen Arizona Hotshot Hopes To Make Better Fire Shelters (AUDIO) 6/30/14
Fire shelter improvements unfortunately spurred by the death of the 19 Yarnell Hill firefighters: From the Source: "Firefighter Travis Turbyfill was killed one year ago by a wildfire after he and fellow members of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots deployed to a fire shelter in an Arizona box canyon. A fierce wind blew the Yarnell Hill Fire over the crew, killing 19. Travis' father, David, doesn't want his son to have died in vain, and he's trying to help the U.S. Forest Service improve those shelters to withstand direct flames. All that remained of the Granite Mountain Hotshots' fire shelters — which are thin layers of foil and insulation designed to help protect firefighters as a fire burns over them — were twisted piles of crumbled aluminum and ash. David has been conducting tests on new shelter material, and recently presented the results in a video. In it, a large metal pipe shoots fire for 30 seconds onto the current fire shelter material layered over a firefighter's yellow fire-retardant shirt. The shirt material winds up scorched and brittle. Then he runs the same test, but for a minute longer, over a fireproof fabric Turbyfill found on the Internet. 'The firefighter's shirt is completely intact,' he says as he shows the camera the scorch-free yellow material. For anyone who's seen a wildfire, the video gets your attention. Turbyfill's metal fabricating shop is in Prescott, Ariz. There he talks statistics. In the past two decades, burn over and entrapment accounted for 25 percent of wildland firefighter deaths. In the case of the Yarnell Hill Fire, the wind pushed the blaze over the men and trapped them in a canyon. 'What I'm saying is that if you create a better fire shelter or survivable fire shelter product, that you could eliminate 20 to 25 percent of all fatalities. Eliminate. Not reduce, eliminate,' he says." - Hawaii Public Radio
Super Choppers Confront California's Weird Wildfire Season (VIDEO) 6/27/14
From the Source: "A whirling black and yellow mechanical beast swoops in to battle a deadly wildfire. For victims, it's like the cavalry coming to the rescue. They call it the Firehawk. Los Angeles County Fire Department senior pilot Tom Short talks about this helicopter like it's a super chopper. "Having been in all of the aircraft that are out there fighting fires, the Firehawk is the best firefighting machine I've ever seen -- simply because of what it does," Short told CNN on the phone this week. "It does everything: fire, rescue and air ambulance." Basically it's a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter outfitted with a giant water tank. This thing is engineered to get hellishly close to the heat of a raging inferno. Its dual souped-up engines can lift 9,000 pounds -- about the same weight as a large recreational travel trailer. In preparation to dump water over flames, the Firehawk's snorkel can suck 1,000 gallons of water into its storage tank in the span of one minute. "We really work these machines very hard. During some fires, Short said, "I've made over 100 drops in one day." A firefighting super-chopper is especially valuable now, as California braces for what may be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. How worrisome is it? The state's firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has responded to more than 2,500 wildfires in 2014 -- a huge increase in the average number of fires at this point in the year, the agency says. In May, several fires in San Diego County forced thousands of residents from their homes and charred more than 31 square miles. The season usually doesn't ramp up until summer or fall." - CNN
San Juan Fire Explodes to 2,000 Acres in Northeast AZ (VIDEO) 6/26/14
From the Source: "Twelve structures are threatened by a fast-growing wildfire on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation west of Cerro Gordo. The San Juan Fire was reported just before 12 p.m. Thursday and within a matter of hours, the fire grew from an initial 100 acres to 2,000 acres by 5 p.m., according to officials with Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Areas on pre-evacuation notice are Whiting Homestead, Red Cabin Ranch and Greenspeak Hideaway. 'The San Juan Fire is heading northeasterly into an area where the White Mountain Stewardship Project has been thinning and that will definitely help slow down any fire activity,' Apache-Sitgreaves Nationals Forest Supervisor Jim Zornes said. Forest Service Road 117 is closed for public access. The public is advised to look for fire personnel and vehicles entering off highways U.S. 60 and Arizona State 260. According to the White Mountain Independent, between 200 to 300 Boy Scouts from Gilbert were in the White Mountains when the fire started. Matthew Wright was with the group and an additional 100 adults and chaperones who were camping in the area. A group of them split off and headed for a ridge at about 9,000 feet and noticed the smoke. They then went back to base camp and told the others it was time to go." - KPHO
World's Hottest May is Now May 2014: NOAA 6/23/14
The planet continues its warming trends - expect wildfires to ride along the upswing, as well. From the Source: "Last month was the hottest May in more than 130 years of recorded weather history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday in its monthly state of the climate report, as May 2014 surpassed the previous record high for the month set in 2010. The world's combined land and ocean temperature for May was 1.33°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F, NOAA reported, adding that four of the five warmest Mays have occurred in the past five years. In the report, NOAA separates out temperature records for the world's land and ocean areas. On land last month, the world saw its fourth-hottest May on record with a global surface temperature 2.03°F above the 20th century average. The oceans saw their hottest May on record, with a temperature 1.06°F above the 20th century average. • The United Kingdom had its third-warmest spring on record, with temperature 2.3°F above the 20th century average • Norway saw its warmest spring since national records began in 1900, breaking its previous record set in 2002. The nation's average temperature for March to May 2014 was 4.1°F above the 1981-2010 average. • South Korea saw its warmest May on record, with a temperature 2.2°F above the 1981-2010 average." - The Weather Channel
California's Drought Getting Even Worse, Experts Say (PHOTOS) 6/19/14
From the Source: "California's drought conditions have worsened over the past week with the percentage of the state suffering from the highest category increasing, the National Weather Service said Thursday. 'Exceptional' drought conditions have spread in Central California since a week ago, weather officials said. Areas in Northern California have also moved into this category since last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Almost 33% of the state faces exceptional conditions. About 25% of the state faced those conditions last week. Every part of California remains in what is considered severe drought. A year ago, no part of the state was in exceptional drought conditions, the weather service said. The drought has prompted water conservation efforts as well as rationing in some parts of the state. L.A. saw record dry conditions this winter, and snowfall in the Sierras has also been significantly down."- LA Times
Navajo's Assayii Lake Fire: Heartbreaking Losses, and How to Help 6/20/14
Learn how you can help those who have lost an important piece of their livelihoods: From the Source: "Firefighters are making headway against the Assayii Lake Fire, but not before it gobbled up acre upon acre of sacred land in the Chuska Mountains between Gallup and Shiprock. The Assayii fire on the Navajo Nation had been 20 percent contained by Thursday June 19, as the blaze reached 13,450 acres, and 867 personnel battled the flames, according toInciWeb. But the victory is destined to be bittersweet. Though no one has died, the toll is still great. Members of two communities had been evacuated, and at least 13 summer sheep camps had been destroyed, according to the Navajo Times. 'We’re going to be losing everything and our memories will be gone,” Elvina Yazzie told theNavajo Times on June 16 after driving her family’s flock of 28 sheep down the mountain with the help of her nephew, Nelvin Yazzie. “It just hurts because our grandparents built that hogan.' Donations are being accepted at several chapter houses, Navajo Nation Emergency Management Director Rose Whitehair told the Navajo Times. The Crystal Chapter House, Naschitti Chapter House, Shiprock Chapter House, Fort Defiance Field House (Home Base), Tohatchi High School Gymnasium and Newcomb School are looking for flour, potatoes, eggs, paperware (bowls, plates, utensils, cups) Zip-lock bags, disposable gloves, oil, salt, baking powder, dish towels, steel knives, pots, pans, napkins, coffee, Kool-Aid and ice tea mix, power bars, cold cuts, bread, soda, water, juice, pitchers for Kool-Aid, canned food and boxes for food storage, according to theNavajo Times. The American Red Cross is fielding financial donations and offering other aid. 'Officials are asking that those donating items refrain from too much sugar products and also to be aware of the expiration dates,' the Navajo Times stated." - Indian Country Today Media Network