Firefighters

Boise State Photo Services

Wildland firefighters spend the summer season working in the state and beyond, but fires don't just end by the start of the new school year.

 

Flickr Creative Commons, US Department of Agriculture

When wildfires rage, it’s pretty routine to share fire suppression crews across state lines. It turns out that sharing firefighters across national borders is not uncommon either.

 

Vale BLM

Cassandra Fleckenstein is the center manager at the Vale District for the Bureau of Land Management. She's been in fire since 2006, getting started as a dispatcher right out of high school.

 


Nick Mott

We’ve had a brutal fire season this year. The fires still burning across California have left more than 80 dead, and hundreds are still missing. Amidst the flames, a seemingly new trend has emerged – a two-tiered system with private firefighting resources for those who can afford them, and a system stretched thin for the rest.

Santee Firefighters Association

Idaho Democratic representative Mat Erpelding has introduced legislation that would provide coverage for first responders who suffer from PTSD as a result of their service. The Boise lawmaker joins Idaho Matters with Boise's fire chief to parse out the bill and the importance of addressing mental as well as physical health for first responders.

Douglas Forest Protective Association

An Idaho inmate is being held without bail after a woman accused him of raping her at a wildfire camp in August.

FLICK/NPS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE

The Idaho Department of Corrections facilitates a program allowing inmates to be trained as firefighters and deployed on the lines of some of the most intense wildfires in the West. This is a voluntary program and participants are eager to break up the monotony of prison life by making a difference in a community by battling wildfires. We'll meet with the warden of the South Idaho Correctional Institute, in Kuna, and an inmate who puts his life at risk with his crew to protect wildlands and property in the West.

Great Basin Type 1 Incident Management Team

Firefighters are making progress in their battles against two large Idaho wildfires still minimally contained. Evacuations on one blaze, the Rattlesnake Creek Fire, have been downgraded.

Dan Logan / Flickr Creative Commons

Millions of homes built on the edge of wild areas are complicating the work of wildfire managers who must decide how to deploy the nation's firefighting resources.

Some 44 million homes have been built in what scientists call the wildland-urban interface, most in recent decades. The areas are often scenic but susceptible to fire.

IIP Photo Archive / Flickr Creative Commons

Update, 7:25 p.m.: A federal firefighter injured in a fire-truck crash that killed two other crew members on a remote highway in Nevada is expected to survive.

The Nevada Highway Patrol says tire failure may have caused the truck to crash Sunday while the three were returning to Winnemucca from a search for lightning-sparked wildfires near the Oregon line.

Trooper Jim Stewart says both victims were from Winnemucca. He identified them as Jacob Omalley, the 27-year-old driver, and Will Hawkins, a 22-year-old passenger.

Boise National Forest

Three firefighters died after their vehicle crashed and was likely caught by flames as they battled a blaze in Washington State yesterday. Four other firefighters were injured.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NFIC) says 13 people have died battling the fires this year.

Driving is one of the leading causes of death for wildland firefighters. That can include driving to or from a fire, as well as on the fire line.

Randy Eardley of NFIC says every death is mourned.

Inciweb

Forest Service researchers are taking a closer look at how wildfire smoke impacts the people most exposed to it. A five-year study will monitor the carbon monoxide levels of firefighters around the country.

Boise National Forest/USFS

The National Interagency Fire Center is calling on 200 active-duty military troops to help fight roughly 95 wildfires burning across the West.

Officials with the Boise-based agency made the announcement Monday. The troops will begin training Wednesday and are expected to be ready for action Sunday. They will be mobilized for a month. NIFC officials say previous call-ups have included more soldiers, but that the smaller force will be ready sooner. 

This is the first time NIFC has mobilized active duty military members for fire suppression efforts since 2006.

firetruck, boise, firefighters
Nicholas D. / Flickr Creative Commons

The City of Boise and the Firefighters Union are negotiating a new labor contract. At issue is how much firefighters should be paid.

Last year, the average department employee made $85,000, plus another $50,000 for insurance and retirement, according to the Idaho Statesman. That’s up 24 percent from a decade ago. However, two years ago, firefighters refused a contractual raise.

As wildfire season rages in California, firefighting help is coming from an unexpected place: prison. Thousands of low-level offenders have become a crucial component of how the state battles wildfires.

If there's a wildfire here, there are inmates battling it.

Emir Dunn is one of the inmates working a wildfire in the mountainous area of northern California near Oregon. The fire has already scorched nearly 13,000 acres and the temperatures here are unrelenting.

Photo courtesy: Ransdell family

Contract firefighters can often be found on the front lines. They’re usually indistinguishable from government firefighters. But a recent court ruling has re-emphasized that if they’re killed in the line of duty, there’s a big difference.  

Widlfires
Ashley Smith / Times-News

The Elk Complex wildfire has already caused hundreds of people to evacuate including those living in the town of Pine.  Tuesday night, the Elmore County Sheriff issued another mandatory evacuation, this time for residents in nearby Featherville.  

Paul Broyles is a deputy incident commander with the team that manages this fire.  He flew over the Fall Creek area west of Pine.  He says 53 structures, including homes, have been lost.  

“The fire was quite intense, quite hot, and I was quite frankly surprised that any homes survived,” he says.

Firefighters, Fire, Crews, Wildfires
Ashley Smith / Times-News

Mandatory evacuations are in place for the central Idaho mountain town of Pine and surrounding communities. That’s because the 125-square-mile Elk Complex wildfire is getting closer. Kimberlee Kruesi is  covering this wildfire for the Times-News in Twin Falls.  

"I'm most struck by the residents' love for this area and true concern," says Kruesi. Sunday night she interviewed people who'd lived in the town of Pine for 15 years. "And they were crying because they knew this area is never going to look the same."

Boise National Forest

Update, 5:00 AM Tuesday:  BLM officials now say crews hope to have the Fir Grove Fire contained by Tuesday evening.  The latest estimates of burned acreage now put the fire at approximately 7150 acres.  Initially, fire officials had estimated the fire's size at more than 8500 acres.

Original post:  Sunday afternoon, the Fir Grove Fire sprang up near Gooding, forcing the partial closure of Highway 46 and Highway 20.

Ken Loda / Great Basin Incident Management Team 7

Update 10:10 a.m. : The fire has grown to 6,559 acres Friday. Fire managers say they made some progress with fire lines Thursday. The blaze is 5 percent contained. Four more hotshot crews were added to the roster of firefighters.

Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

Idaho'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.

Glossary

wildfires
U.S. Forest Service

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Tuesday afternoon for the Boise National Forest and parts of the Payette National Forest. Dry and windy conditions could make firefighting efforts in those areas difficult and could spark new flames there's lighting. 

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

When a wildfire breaks out in rural parts of the Northwest, the first people on the scene are often volunteer firefighters. Much of the region relies on these unpaid first responders who have day jobs of their own. But changes in rural America are conspiring to make volunteer forces harder to maintain. And that could make it more difficult for communities to respond to emergencies like wildfire.

Jessica Murri / Boise State Public Radio

It’s the height of fire season in Idaho and hundreds of seasonal firefighters are busy.

For the first time, they’re eligible for federal health insurance. President Obama made the change in July.

Many of these firefighters have gone without insurance because of the cost. While the new benefits have been welcomed, one Boise-based firefighter finds that the new health insurance won’t help her.

Emma Kaage lifts a 95 pound barbell above her head, and lets it drop to the floor, before she picks it up again. The 25-year-old does CrossFit training twice a day.

Firefighting Still Dangerous, But For Different Reasons

Aug 14, 2012
Courtesy of Veseth’s family via U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service has identified a firefighter killed in Idaho on Sunday as 20-year-old Anne Veseth of Moscow, Idaho. She was struck by a falling tree at the Steep Corner Fire southeast of Coeur d’Alene.  Firefighting deaths fluctuate from year to year, but the biggest source of that danger has shifted.

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