Firefighters Learning New Strategies To Contain Brush Fires
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Firefighters in Utah have attributed faster wildfire response and control times to new techniques learned while fighting flames in other states like California.
For the past few years, crews from the Salt Lake City Fire Department have made training to fight brushfires a priority, especially as the city has grown into areas that used to be just open land.
New tactics learned as firefighters have assisted in wildfires in surrounding states helped them to quickly put out flames burning along I-80 near the airport Tuesday, as well as save homes near the Utah State Capitol in 2018 during a fast-moving brush fire.
Because of their new training, they made it look relatively easy.
“It’s definitely made a difference,” said Captain Adam Archuleta.
UPDATE: Yesterday’s brush fires along I-80 in #SaltLakeCity were caused by sparks from a passing train, according to @slcfire. There were six separate fires burning at one time. #KSLTV pic.twitter.com/i4BV30rJlv
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) August 21, 2019
It’s not that fire crews haven’t taken brushfires seriously before. However, with so many deployments to help states like California with their wildfires, crews said they have learned a few new things.
Salt Lake firefighters now position more brush trucks at stations surrounding the valley and wear lighter clothing instead of heavy turnout gear.
Unlike structure fires that crews have been more accustomed to fighting, wildfires move, which requires firefighters to better anticipate where the blaze will go – and how fast it will spread.
Archuleta said the experience in surrounding states helps them consider the factors in a new way, and better strategize their fire attack.
“What resources do we need, what resources do we have, and where do we put them?” he said. “The strategy and tactics deployed on your simple grass fires, most departments in the valley can handle those with very little training, but as soon as it expands beyond that, you have to have experience to back up your tactics.”
The new strategies have helps with more than just grassfires, especially as the city has grown into areas that used to be just open land.
“It’s not just the flat, grassy areas on the west side where it was just grass burning,” Archuleta said. “Now there are commercial buildings, industrial areas that are affected. If it’s on the east bench, you have homes everywhere now.”
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