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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71c90000Idaho's wildfire season is here, and that means you're going to be hearing a lot of firefighting jargon to describe what's going on.We put together this list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months.GlossaryHotshots: A highly trained hand crew of wildland firefighters that works on the ground to contain a blaze. Crews usually operate in 20-person teams, and are sent in first to deal with the worst fire conditions on short notice. Hotshots have a high level of physical fitness. They can carry up to 50 pounds along with a chainsaw and shovel. There are more than 100 hotshot crews around the country, and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise coordinates the crews.Hand crew: Wildland firefighters that could have different levels of training. They work on the ground with hand tools like shovels, chainsaws and axes. They dig fire lines (also called "firebreaks") to try and get the fire under control.Smokejumper: An elite firefighter that parachutes into remote wildland fires. They work to suppress and put out fires before they become a bigger problem, and can adapt to quickly changing situations. Smokejumpers have to be fit and highly trained. They carry heavy packs and protective suits and work in mountainous terrain. Idaho has three smokejumping bases in Boise, McCall and Grangeville.Fire lines or firebreaks: Usually about 10-12 feet wide, fire lines are cut with shovels and axes to contain and suppress a blaze. Hand crews -- including hotshots -- will dig lines and clear out brush so the fire will get choked off without fuel.Containment levels: The agency that manages a fire will say how "contained" a fire is. At 100 percent containment a fire isn't out. That means a complete fire line has been dug around the fire. A contained fire can quickly become out of control again with a shift in weather.Controlled fire: This is when a wildfire is considered out. Here's how the BLM office in Idaho Falls describes it: "Think of a container -- say, a mason jar. A fire is contained when it's all 'bottled in,' like in a container. The fire may still be burning, but if a distinct fire line is built around the entire perimeter so that there is no chance for the fire to escape or spot over outside the line, then the fire fighters declare the fire 'contained.' "Human caused: This means someone accidentally or intentionally caused a fire. This could be from a discarded cigarette, a embers from a campfire, or even sparks from a truck along a forested highway. As Smokey says, nine times out of 10, a wildfire is human-caused.Fire danger: This is a rating system from the U.S. Forest Service that helps predict how likely a wildfire could start in an area. It takes into account the weather forecast, terrain and personnel. "Low" means a blaze would likely not spread, while "moderate" means a fire could start but could be contained. "High" to "very high" means fires can catch and spread easily, while "extreme" means the conditions are so difficult and fast-changing that fighting the blaze directly is rare.Red flag warning: These warning are issued by regional National Weather Service offices, and help firefighting management teams understand the weather-related risks for fire starts. Drought and low humidity mixed with windy conditions usually spell a red flag warning. Burning bans sometimes come along with these warnings.Complex: Two or more larger wildfires in the same general area. A complex is managed by a unified team of firefighters.Air attack: Usually used during the initial stages of a small blaze, or as a suppression tool during large fires. Air attacks can drop fire retardant or water to help support hand and engine crews. Multi-engine or heavy air tankers, single-engine air tankers, and helicopters are the three most common types of aircraft that can be used. Multi-engine tankers carry the most retardant, while helicopters (or helitankers) can make more precise but smaller drops.Fire retardant: Also known as slurry, these USDA-approved chemicals are dropped by aircraft over wildfires that management teams believe could grow and become dangerous. It's often used to protect private property. A 2010 ruling from the U.S. District Court in Montana raised questions about its environmental effects.Incident management teams: Operating from level one through five, these teams of firefighters can be sent around the country to suppress fires. Type 1 and 2 IMT's often work on the most difficult and dangerous fires, and can include local firefighting resources.ResourcesWe also pulled together these key resources where you can find up-to-date information about wildfires.The National Interagency Fire Center coordinates fire management teams around the country, and is based in Boise. This year, NIFC predicted a higher level of fire danger in Idaho forests, while the grassland should get a bit of a break.The Bureau of Land Management's site will update Idahoans about fire restrictions on public land.InciWeb updates fire information around the country, giving handy info about road closures during the summer travel season. You'll also find maps, photos, and growth potential for a particular fire.And if you tweet, consider following these organizations and agencies for fire updates in 140 characters.

Western Senators Push Bill Intended To Reduce Wildfire Risk

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The Mullen Fire burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming, photographed Sept. 25.

A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers have signed onto a new federal bill that aims to reduce the damages of wildfire.

The legislation, called the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020, would fund three massive land management projects intended to reduce fire risk and damage, and could include actions such as logging, prescribed burns and rehabilitating damaged ecosystems.

The locations for those activities aren’t listed, but instead would be selected by the Agriculture Secretary within 90 days of the bill’s passage. State governors can submit proposals for projects in their states, though. Each project could be significant in any given state, taking place on up to 75,000 acres of federal land or land bordering federal land.

Dennis Becker, for one, is excited that the legislation promotes coordination between governments and stakeholders. He’s the dean of the college of Natural Sciences at the University of Idaho and has studied collaborative management of public lands.

His team found that more collaboration meant “appeals and litigation goes down… the amount of acreage goes up and the time of planning that’s involved doesn’t change. In other words, it takes no longer to do those projects than to do projects where there’s not collaboration happening."

The bill would lessen the likelihood of the projects getting tied up in litigation by laxing some requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act on national forest lands, a move opposed by groups such as The Wilderness Society.

It would also help fund some other initiatives, like shoring up the energy grid in fire-prone places, providing grants and loans for biomass facilities, and funding education grants for various forest and fire-related jobs. There’s even a proposal for a new center to train people in using prescribed burns.

That training and education is just as important as the major landscape projects, according to Becker.

“That workforce is not only the people doing prescribed burning, the folks working in the woods, but it’s also the communities and how community planning happens. And how we do zoning for instance, within the wildland urban interface,” he said.

Beyond that, Becker is happy to see more investment go towards wildfire management, even if the ideas and plans proposed in this bill aren’t new.

Introduced by Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Cali., and Steve Daines, R-Mont, the two testified on the bill before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining on September 16. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho and Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, all Republicans, have signed on as cosponsors.

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet come out with an approximate cost for this bill.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.