Image courtesy of smokeybear.com
As many of you are well aware, brush fire season is upon us. It’s that time of the year where even a small spark can cause extreme havoc for firefighters. There have been several large-scale fires throughout the state already. Make no mistake; even cities like Springfield and Holyoke, to smaller communities like Southampton and South Hadley, all have the potential for large brush fires. The recent dry weather, combined with low humidity levels, and gusty winds, have caused fire departments to issue warnings about the dangers of open burning.
Approximately 26 acres just burned on Holyoke’s Mt Tom, and both Southampton and Wilbraham had fires that actually threatened homes in their area. Other communities have also had their share of stubborn brush fires too. This type of fire puts a great strain on local firefighting resources. Communities are forced to call-in mutual aid from other areas to assist, leaving our cities and town vulnerable.
Brush fires can happen most anywhere and some can be in pretty nasty, very hilly, rocky, slippery, and steep terrain. Some or these areas have trees that have been burnt previously, having the potential to fall and severely injure or kill firefighters. Other first responder injuries can include slips and falls, twisted ankles, heat exhaustion, and even heart attacks. We need to stay vigilant with regards to safety.
The old adage of “April showers bring May flowers” has not come to fruition. We are in need of a few good days of soaking rain to mitigate the potential threat. If we can’t control the weather (though I think some chiefs have tried their own version of the rain dance) how then do we prevent brush fires from happening?
Here are a few recommendations:
Remember what Smokey Bear said, “Only you can prevent forest fires” he’s been right since 1944! Follow these safety tips and do your best to protect not only your firefighters, but also your valuable natural resources.
UPDATE: April 28, 2014 | 6:00AM
The rain gods listened.
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Chief Bob Authier graduated Holyoke Community College majoring in Criminal Justice in 1989. He started his career as a firefighter with Holyoke Fire Department in 1991. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2001, Captain in 2003, achieved Deputy Chief in 2005 and earned EMT in 2008. Chief Authier became Chief Fire District No.1 for South Hadley Fire Department in 2011 and became the accredited Fire Chief in 2013 where performs his duties today.