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Another Issue to Chew On

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  • gcusack@alldata.com
    In the last few years, the Highway 50 corridor in El Dorado County has seen explosive growth in population, vehicle traffic, and MPSM (morons per square mile).
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 22, 2001
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      In the last few years, the Highway 50 corridor in El Dorado County
      has seen explosive growth in population, vehicle traffic, and MPSM
      (morons per square mile). During the winter, the corridor is
      protected primarily by a couple of large CDF stations, 8 permanent
      county stations, and 12-15 locals. More part-time and volunteer
      stations come on-line in season. On many occasions this winter, fire
      resources in this are were maxed-out responding to vehicle accidents,
      medical emergencies, and chimney fires. I have never heard such a
      volume of station coverage re-assignments and unit re-assignments
      direct from one incident to another.
      The vehicle accidents and medical emergencies are not going away with
      the warm weather. The chimney fires are, but they get replaced by
      vegetation fires, which often require far more resources for
      suppression. Are we over-taxing our systems and resources in these
      urban-interface areas? With the growth along I-80 and other highways,
      do parts of NEU or other ranger units face the same problems?
      Compounding these problems, the current radio plan for AEU may be
      inadequate. El Dorado County Fire has 6 low-band frequencies (2
      dispatch, 4 TAC) that, under the current plan from Camino, almost
      never get used. All dispatch, response, and in-route voice traffic
      goes out on AEU Local Net. With the volume of radio traffic along
      Highway 50, Amador County units are having problems raising Camino
      and each other. Is this an isolated problem or a pattern?
    • Jake Hickok
      Woowee! Discussion time! My thoughts on urban interface below..... Urban-interface is a BIG BIG BIG problem with California EVERYWHERE. I personally haven t
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 22, 2001
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        Woowee! Discussion time! My thoughts on urban interface below.....

        Urban-interface is a BIG BIG BIG problem with California EVERYWHERE.
        I personally haven't been in LA enough to see if they have sprawled
        into the mountains or kept to the basin but in the Bay Area
        foothills, Sierra-Nevadas and Northern California it is the favored
        place to live. What better location than having a 2 story house on
        the top of a hill, at the end of a long 1/4mile dirt road driveway
        that travels over some dry creeks and winds through the yellow grass
        and dry oak trees?! If any of you are firefighters I bet you
        shuddered when you read that description. Sadly - it is the majority
        of housing up here in Northern California along the edges of the
        North Sacramento Valley. It is real bad in Shasta County and now
        starting in the western portion of Tehama County.

        What is Urban-Interface?
        It's where somebody decides to build or buy a house on the fringes of
        the neighborhood intermixed with the foothills and vegetation. This
        can range from one house in the whole area to something as dense as
        the Oakland Hills. I think CDF has an official equation for deciding
        if it's urban-interface or not. Something about MPSM ratios and
        geographic locations or something.

        Why is it bad for firefighters?
        Well, for obvious reasons the common wildland fire can turn into
        numerous deadly structure fires as well. When an occupied structure
        is threatened every firefighter's priority is on that structure. That
        takes firefighters off the suppression of the wildland fire. Too many
        houses together and nobody is dealing with the spread of the wildland
        fire - which just gets bigger and threatens MORE homes. (Think
        exponentially)

        Many people don't realize some smaller parts of urban-interface. No
        hydrants or water pressure (from a shared water system.) Septic
        systems are leech fields and tanks dug a couple feet underground. You
        get a heavy engine off-roading to your house to protect it (i.e.
        drive it behind the house off their driveway etc) and it goes over
        that tank or field, it will sink immediately and that's the end of
        that engine. Likewise - long narrow driveways with low vegetation
        clearance don't allow engines to easily enter. They get back there
        and suddenly they have to back out 1/4mile since there is no
        turnaround spot big enough for an engine. Low vegetation along the
        driveway blocks the only way out if it's on fire. And what about
        those creeks running under the driveways? A small bridge can hold the
        family car just fine but an engine won't dare go over one unless it's
        county approved for their weight. Last thing they want is to drop
        their engine 10 feet into a gully. Ouch.

        How are firefighters dealing with it?
        Shasta County had two fires within a month of each other that took
        out something like 300 FAMILY homes and misc buildings total (don't
        quote me on the number but I believe it's even higher than that!) All
        those homes were urban-interface homes. All the firefighters can do
        is make it publicly aware and raise the awareness level of the
        families "living on the edge" I think Shasta County is passing or has
        passed an ordinance requiring clearance and such. That is a start -
        but enforcing that rule is a joke with the current number of officers
        and prevention units. Sigh.

        Well - back to work here. There is a start to get some discussion
        going on this. I'll elaborate more on frequency availability and such
        later that George had mentioned in AEU.
        --
        ------------------------------------
        Jake Hickok Red Bluff, CA
        KF6KDD 21yr old Shasta College Student
        Technical Support Specialist - Red Bluff High

        http://www.norcalscan.org
        Northern California Scanning and Ham Radio
        Music, Drums and Percussion, Radios, Computers

        "Maybe the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about!"
        ------------------------------------
      • gcusack@alldata.com
        In my area at least (AEU/TCU), CDF with heavy county and local FPD support has done an incredible job in recent years of aggressively attacking and suppressing
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 22, 2001
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          In my area at least (AEU/TCU), CDF with heavy county and local FPD
          support has done an incredible job in recent years of aggressively
          attacking and suppressing these fires. I feel some of their key
          success factors are:
          Camino and San Andreas dispatchers assume the worst as a matter of
          policy. They routinely call for heavy response, including air attack
          and dozer teams, with the first tones, then recall units after the
          first reports from the scene are in.
          The guys who drive A-440 have x-ray vision and really understand fire
          behavior in this area.
          There is excellent air-ground coordination.
          The tanker pilots are so good they can pinpoint mud drops around
          individual dwellings.
          The ground crews are very well trained and teh equipment is well
          maintained.
          I just don't know how long they can keep this up.

          > How are firefighters dealing with it?
          > Shasta County had two fires within a month of each other that took
          > out something like 300 FAMILY homes and misc buildings total (don't
          > quote me on the number but I believe it's even higher than that!)
          All
          > those homes were urban-interface homes. All the firefighters can do
          > is make it publicly aware and raise the awareness level of the
          > families "living on the edge" I think Shasta County is passing or
          has
          > passed an ordinance requiring clearance and such. That is a start -
          > but enforcing that rule is a joke with the current number of
          officers
          > and prevention units. Sigh.
          >
          > Well - back to work here. There is a start to get some discussion
          > going on this. I'll elaborate more on frequency availability and
          such
          > later that George had mentioned in AEU.
          > --
          > ------------------------------------
          > Jake Hickok Red Bluff, CA
          > KF6KDD 21yr old Shasta College Student
          > Technical Support Specialist - Red Bluff High
          >
          > http://www.norcalscan.org
          > Northern California Scanning and Ham Radio
          > Music, Drums and Percussion, Radios, Computers
          >
          > "Maybe the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about!"
          > ------------------------------------
        • Pam & Jeff Schiller
          Jake the other part of this to remember is that the USFS is in no way interested or legally obligated to fight a structure fire there soul interest is the
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 22, 2001
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            Jake

            the other part of this to remember is that the USFS is in no way interested
            or legally obligated to fight a structure fire there soul interest is the
            forest....and by the way I have a brother who lives near Yosemite valley and
            the fed fire fighters are put up in hotel rooms at night when available(it
            is a federal policy that federal firefighters do not, in most, cases work at
            night!)
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Jake Hickok <jake@...>
            To: <norcalfire@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2001 4:03 PM
            Subject: [NorCalFire] Urban/Interface


            > Woowee! Discussion time! My thoughts on urban interface below.....
            >
            > Urban-interface is a BIG BIG BIG problem with California EVERYWHERE.
            > I personally haven't been in LA enough to see if they have sprawled
            > into the mountains or kept to the basin but in the Bay Area
            > foothills, Sierra-Nevadas and Northern California it is the favored
            > place to live. What better location than having a 2 story house on
            > the top of a hill, at the end of a long 1/4mile dirt road driveway
            > that travels over some dry creeks and winds through the yellow grass
            > and dry oak trees?! If any of you are firefighters I bet you
            > shuddered when you read that description. Sadly - it is the majority
            > of housing up here in Northern California along the edges of the
            > North Sacramento Valley. It is real bad in Shasta County and now
            > starting in the western portion of Tehama County.
            >
            > What is Urban-Interface?
            > It's where somebody decides to build or buy a house on the fringes of
            > the neighborhood intermixed with the foothills and vegetation. This
            > can range from one house in the whole area to something as dense as
            > the Oakland Hills. I think CDF has an official equation for deciding
            > if it's urban-interface or not. Something about MPSM ratios and
            > geographic locations or something.
            >
            > Why is it bad for firefighters?
            > Well, for obvious reasons the common wildland fire can turn into
            > numerous deadly structure fires as well. When an occupied structure
            > is threatened every firefighter's priority is on that structure. That
            > takes firefighters off the suppression of the wildland fire. Too many
            > houses together and nobody is dealing with the spread of the wildland
            > fire - which just gets bigger and threatens MORE homes. (Think
            > exponentially)
            >
            > Many people don't realize some smaller parts of urban-interface. No
            > hydrants or water pressure (from a shared water system.) Septic
            > systems are leech fields and tanks dug a couple feet underground. You
            > get a heavy engine off-roading to your house to protect it (i.e.
            > drive it behind the house off their driveway etc) and it goes over
            > that tank or field, it will sink immediately and that's the end of
            > that engine. Likewise - long narrow driveways with low vegetation
            > clearance don't allow engines to easily enter. They get back there
            > and suddenly they have to back out 1/4mile since there is no
            > turnaround spot big enough for an engine. Low vegetation along the
            > driveway blocks the only way out if it's on fire. And what about
            > those creeks running under the driveways? A small bridge can hold the
            > family car just fine but an engine won't dare go over one unless it's
            > county approved for their weight. Last thing they want is to drop
            > their engine 10 feet into a gully. Ouch.
            >
            > How are firefighters dealing with it?
            > Shasta County had two fires within a month of each other that took
            > out something like 300 FAMILY homes and misc buildings total (don't
            > quote me on the number but I believe it's even higher than that!) All
            > those homes were urban-interface homes. All the firefighters can do
            > is make it publicly aware and raise the awareness level of the
            > families "living on the edge" I think Shasta County is passing or has
            > passed an ordinance requiring clearance and such. That is a start -
            > but enforcing that rule is a joke with the current number of officers
            > and prevention units. Sigh.
            >
            > Well - back to work here. There is a start to get some discussion
            > going on this. I'll elaborate more on frequency availability and such
            > later that George had mentioned in AEU.
            > --
            > ------------------------------------
            > Jake Hickok Red Bluff, CA
            > KF6KDD 21yr old Shasta College Student
            > Technical Support Specialist - Red Bluff High
            >
            > http://www.norcalscan.org
            > Northern California Scanning and Ham Radio
            > Music, Drums and Percussion, Radios, Computers
            >
            > "Maybe the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about!"
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            >
            > Northern California Fire Season 2001!
            > http://www.norcalscan.org/fire/
            >
            > Fire Season right around the corner!!
            >
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