Waiting Is Part Of Fighting Complex Wildfires For Utah Task Force 1

Nov 15, 2018, 7:58 AM | Updated: 8:38 am

CAMARILLO, Calif. – It turns out there is a lot of waiting when there are a lot of fire crews assigned to a large, complex wildfire.

Utah Task Force 1 found that out when they were assigned to the Woolsey Fire burning near Malibu in Southern California.

“Absolutely, when you have this many moving parts to an incident with such complexities as values at risk and lives at risk, it takes a minute for the overhead and the leadership to formulate their plan,” said Adam Halsey, who is a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority.

Utah Task Force 1 is made up of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, Unified Fire Authority, West Valley City Fire Department, and the Uintah City Fire Department.

Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

They arrived in California Monday.

Tuesday morning, the team started in the staging area near Camarillo, which means they were waiting for Fire Incident Commanders to give them an assignment on the fire.

When fire crews are in staging, they have to be ready to go at any minute.

At about 9:30 a.m., the first call for help came.

They were sent to Simi Valley to check out what was believed to be a new fire, but when they arrived nothing was found.

It appeared to have been a false call.

So, the team was reassigned back to staging to wait for another assignment on the big Woolsey Fire.

Unified Fire Authority firefighter

Unified Fire Authority firefighter

“As we’re their chess pieces, we sometimes have to be patient and waiting for the order to march and move, so we don’t go to the wrong place or negatively impact the plan they have that we might not be aware of,” said Halsey, who has been fighting wildfires long enough to know waiting is part of the game.

Of course, the firefighters want to fight the fires.

That’s why they volunteered to come to California.

However, they also know it’s just as important to be ready to replace other crews as necessary.

“A lot of the times, we get to places real quick and we kind of stick around and wait to find a spot to plug us in,” said Chris Willden, who is with the Uintah City Fire Department.

Sticking around also gives an opportunity for the community to say thank you in person.

While waiting on the side of the road in Westlake Village for an assignment, children in the area approached Utah’s firefighters and offered them pancakes.


Kids offering pancakes

Kids offering pancakes

“Oh, these are good ones. They’re already buttered, too,” said one of the firefighters as soon as he took a bite.

“Thank you, buddy,” he said.

Even 9-year-olds know fighting wildfires is a tough job.

“We just wanted to say thank you. I think it’s pretty cool. They risk their lives to do it and it’s good,” said 9-year-old Marco Mehrvarz.

Seeing the support from the community is a reminder of why many of these firefighters volunteered to go to California.

They know help is needed and it matters.

“For those little kids that just came up, made us a bunch of pancakes and stuff, you really do get to see that you make a difference in people’s lives,” Willden said.

Chris Willden with Uintah Fire Firefighter Adam Halsey Kids offering pancakes Morning Briefing Salt Lake City Fire Dept Task Force 1 Unified Fire Authority firefighter Waiting for an assignment West Valley Fire

KSL 5 TV Live


Chopped down forestry in the Dixie National Forest....

Mike Anderson

National forest officials thin out thousands of acres to reduce wildfire danger

Park officials are working on thinning more than 140-thousand acres of national forests in Utah, all in order to protect against catastrophic wildfires.

2 days ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Eliza Pace

Lightning-caused fire threatens homes

A new fire authorities are calling the Evening Star Fire, is threatening four homes in the Victory Ranch Community in Wasatch County.

3 days ago

Lighthouse Fire has expanded by 400 acres in just 24 hours....

Cimaron Neugebauer

UPDATE: Wildfire grows by 400 acres in a day after fire embers from Lighthouse Canyon fire start another fire in Emery County

A new fire that ignited from the Lighthouse Fire in Emery County had created visible smoke in eastern Utah and western Colorado as of Wednesday night.

15 days ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Eliza Pace

Fire in Eden contained after threatening multiple structures

A fire was safely contained after is endangered multiple structures Thursday afternoon.

21 days ago

Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest create haze at Utah State University....

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Hazy, smoky skies return to Utah — but for how long?

Yes, wildfire smoke is back making hazy skies in Utah. Winds brought smoke from the Pacific Northwest into Utah on Wednesday.

22 days ago

Hawaii Fires Power Lines...

Jennifer MCdermott, Associated Press

Hawaii power utility takes responsibility for first fire on Maui, but faults county firefighters

Hawaii’s electric utility acknowledged its power lines started a wildfire on Maui but faulted county firefighters for declaring the blaze contained and leaving the scene, only to have a second wildfire break out nearby and become the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century.

24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Waiting Is Part Of Fighting Complex Wildfires For Utah Task Force 1