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Spent the day eating smoke...


a lot of smoke.  


Just completed a couple of Wildland Firefighting courses: S-190 and S-130.


Because we are in a Mutual-Aid agreement with the US Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources,

our department received an invite to participate in one of the DNR's Prescribed Burns: intentional burning of state property

to benefit flora or fauna.  


Today's burn was to improve the habitat of the sharp-tailed grouse.



The goal was to burn off 400 acres of a nearby goose refuge.  

Alas, we could only get 100 acres to burn because the fuels failed

to combust.  (You can still see snow in some of the pictures.)

My Sister/Sister, Lori shared a cute joke when she was here:  

Summer in the U.P. is lovely!  

Last year, it was on a Tuesday.  57240e9489e2e_Laughinghysterically.gif.8 


Anyway, the DNR broke the 400 acres into more manageable Units.

I was assigned to Task Force II.  We drip-torched Units 2,6, 7 and 8.




The DNR guy in the yellow hardhat, looking toward the camera, was the Burn Boss, Pete Glover.

In a structure fire, he would have been the Incident Commander.



One of our two brushtrucks and my crewmate, Steve.


The DNR burned these parcels from the outside in.  Our job was to keep

the flames from crossing the black fireline.  We used both water and these

really neat fire swatters, which should be called fire smotherers, because you don't

swat the fire with them, you smother the fire with them. 5724159408185_GrinBig.gif.498c62894a378b




Me, in my wildfire PPE. I looked like a very large, walking banana.572416d60ba41_LaughingSnickeringDoggy.gi

I got to be the burn's official weather recorder.

Every hour on the hour, I had to use one of the Forest Service guy's Kestrel device to record

the temp, the relative humidity and windspeeds, direction and gusts.




We started at 9 am and quit around 6 pm.  


All in all a smoky, but interesting, way to spend the day. ^_^




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No.  We used to do that, up til two years ago.

We had to fight a forest fire with the DNR and US Forest Service and we about died in our

regular turnouts.


So we decided to purchase PPE specifically designed to fight wildfires/grass fires/brush fires.  

No detachable lining.  Just 6 oz. per yard 100% Nomex IIIA.

Our structure fire gear's outer shell is 7 oz. per yard  60% Kevlar and 40% Nomex.


We also have these cool (well, actually quite hot) face shields with replaceable air filters in them:



Mine spent most of the day hanging around my neck.5724b3468491e_Embarassedshrug.gif.395abd

I did don it a few times, when the shifting winds made

breathing without it impossible.


I did wear my goggles, though...after my eyes began tearing up and burning so bad that

I could no longer see the fire.5724b4c404ceb_Embarassedhidetwiddlethumb


The smoke spotter planes spent the day circling us.


They were there to alert us to any spotfires that might have started from flying embers.


This is the Kestrel Device I was using all day:





The meteorological data provided by a single hand held Kestrel weather and wind speed meter used to require expensive equipment that took up a truckload of space. Today, Kestrel wind meters and weather trackers are as small as a mobile phone - and cost about the same. Hardly delicate pieces of equipment, Kestrel Meters are tough, immune to the elements, and even float in water.

Hand held wind and weather meters are your portal into the perpetually changing world of weather phenomena. A wind meter like the Kestrel 3000 will tell you all you need to know about the speed of the wind, the temperature, even humidity and heat stress information. 


It comes attached to this cool case that drapes around your neck.



Everybody had hand-held radios (HTs) all tuned to the DNR's tactical channels.

I got to make hourly weather condition reports.5724bd53ec77c_htmic.jpg.c6c98e85cf4f923f

People started calling me the weather lady.5724b8433c14f_YESGrin.GIF.1bb6b78ab74ebe

I had to let everyone know what air temp., relative humidity and wind speed changes were occurring. 

I thought reporting wind direction shifts was a bit redundant

because the smoke was already doing that for us.5724b8e41ee57_YESGrinning.gif.91d8830898

I had the alarm clock on my cell phone set to remind me to stop and take the readings.

One time, it went off in the middle of a briefing. 5724ba6f87225_Embarassedhideface.gif.3be 

When I explained why,  the interruption was forgiven.^_^


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This is interesting. We have prescribed burns in our area. To encourage growth of hazel nut sticks for baskets. Plus, it is the right thing to do. It keeps the brush down in case of fire. We live on a hill, so, it is a constant danger. Right now, there are burn lines below the house, where they plan to burn. When they do burn, it is scary. They have all their instruments, and tools, and crew. And after wards, it looks a bit pathetic. But, perks up faster then you can think. We open up our burned sites to the public, which is not common. 

In the old days, it was regular to burn. If you don't, the brush takes over, and a fire goes wild. 

I know they know business, and, I am grateful for folks like you. 

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Smoke eaters...

As a weldor, that has a whole different meaning for me.


They are small, portable,  high volume air filtering devices. Sorta like an industrial air cleaner. Would rent them when welding in confined areas or places (hospitals) where a bunch of smoke floating around wouldn't be good.



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  • 1 month later...

Happy Woohoo.GIFI just passed my practicals!!!

I am now a certified Wildland  firefighter.^_^ Certified Wildland FF.jpg

619X480 size Wildland Fire Fighter Certification.jpg


It got into the 80's here today.  Our practicals were originally scheduled for May 21st, but the fire danger was too great.

It would have been a whole lot cooler back in May.   Just a few days ago, it was 29 degrees here.:uhhuh:


The Upper Peninsula of Michigan doesn't get a whole lot of wildfires.

So, here's hoping that  my training will never have to be put to use.cool2.gif


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I am not a certified wildland firefighter but my Brother used to be a Forrest Service Officer when he was younger (and I did NOT sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night)


He used to drive one of those bulldozers that makes fire lines and put out forest fires. When we had a wildfire out here some years back (he no longer was doing that kind of work) we had to assist and followed the bulldozer through the woods beating out and small fires on the wrong side of the plowed line. We used one of these

On 4/29/2016 at 10:33 PM, Friends just call me Ross said:

Fire Swatter.jpg

and a flat shovel.

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  • 1 month later...

Our department's Wildfire crew made the local paper:



I'm the third from the left...and I'm holding a Pulaski.

Pulaski tool.jpg



Mathias Twp. Fire Dept. outfits for wildfires

by Toni Mann

The Mathias Township Fire Department has improved its readiness for wildland and brush fires with a $6,000 grant used to purchase gear. In conjunction with the acquisition of new clothing and tools, five of the fire fighters received training on how to address these types of fires.




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  • 4 weeks later...

Last night, we had training on dealing with Propane emergencies.  Our department was the host.

There were four stations.    

Things got very hot and very loud.

onight's training was on Propane Emergencies.
A mobile training unit from the Gas Association of Michigan put it on and we got certification through the FFTC of Michigan, for taking the course.  Seven department showed up for the classroom and 'hose on' training.    It was veeeeeery interesting, eye-opening and informative.:huh:  Right in the middle of the classroom part, we got called out to a car fire.  It was the County Sheriff's car that was burning.:uhhuh:
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Must have done something wrong because the above post got all discombobulated.:uhhuh:

The video above was taken at Station Three.  I will try to upload one of the seven-man team videos taken at station four.  The ASME tanks

are the real scary beasts! Scared Run Away Run Away.gif

There was classroom and 'hose on' training...and lots and lots of briefing...which should have been done BEFORE they told us to

suit up in 80 degree heat and high humidity.^_^

BriefingHot sweat.gif:Briefing.jpg

BriefingHot and bothered.gif:Briefing two.jpg

And more briefingHotter than hot.gif: More Briefing.jpg

Right in the middle of the classroom part, our department got called out to a car fire.  It was the County Sheriff's car that was burning.:uhhuh:


Propane Stations One thru Four:Stations One thru Four and Hose Lays.jpg

Seven departments participated in the propane training: Other departments training with us.jpg

First team waiting for fire at station one:

Station One.jpg


This is Mobile Training Unit's trailer:

Mobile Training Unit.jpg


The training was Michigan FFTC accredited, so we received certification for the course.

Which was veeeeeery interesting...and hot...and loud...and informative.YES Grin.GIF

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Nice pics!

LPG fire training is pretty interesting, it does get very hot and very loud.

Fighting hydrocarbon fires, especially LPG fires, is a lot different than structural or wildland fires, the first thing you learn is not to put out the fire!


It's good training, glad you enjoyed it.


Edit: I noticed on the video they approached the fire with a wide pattern spray, we were taught to use a modified stream to get better protection, the wide pattern will hold back the heat but it wont protect you on a pressurized fuel source. It also looked like the nozzle man broke the pattern when he made the shut-off. Tsk Tsk Tsk.... :)

Edited by Tortuga
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