From the Chief: Summer Wildland Fire Season and Smoke is in the Air


bryan collinsIt’s August and we are right in the middle of this region’s “wildland fire season” and smoke is definitely in the air!

Fire activity has been high throughout the western United States including here in Washington. As I write this, numerous large uncontrolled wildfires are burning across the Northwest and currently SVFD has about 12 of our personnel dispersed across Washington and Oregon helping to suppress those fires.

Almost exclusively, the fires that are burning have been “human caused”. I urge you to please be extra careful when working or recreating in an area with dry vegetation. At this time of the year, dry grasses can be ignited by something as simple as a spark caused by striking a rock with your lawnmower or weed trimmer.

No outdoor burning should be conducted until the Spokane County Fire Chiefs and cities remove the burn restrictions that are in place.

Please keep your vehicles on paved roads, as fires are easily started when the very hot mufflers and catalytic converters on the underside of a car come in contact with dry grass. Use caution with towing chains so they don’t drag on the roadway and cause sparks. Additionally, if a fire should start, or if you see what looks to be smoke from an active fire, please call 911 as quickly as possible. Our best chance of limited spread and damage from these types of fires occurs if we can get to the incident in its very early stages. Given the extremely dry fuels, once a wildland fire starts to rapidly spread it is very difficult to contain especially if the ambient air temperature is hot and winds are blowing.

Monitor the air quality on days when smoke is visible across our region. Those of you with asthma, or other respiratory issues, the very young or elderly, should limit your exposure when air quality is unhealthy. You can easily and quickly check current and forecasted air quality by following this link or by calling Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency at 477-4727.

Please take some time to evaluate your activities for the next 6-8 weeks and be “fire-wise” with your day-to-day actions. Human caused fires can be prevented if we all heed cautions like I mentioned above.

Take care and be safe!

~ Bryan Collins, Fire Chief

Print Friendly, PDF & Email