Monday, July 30, 2012

Fire Life Vocabulary

I have been living the Wildland Firefighter lifestyle with Berkeley for quite some time now. Even before we were romantically involved, maintaining our friendship throughout fire season was crazy! From all of years of being around Wildland Fire there is a new set of vocab that takes residence in my life. Sometimes, it even feels like I am speaking a foreign language when trying to explain what life is like to out loved ones.

Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest.

Here is a small list of terms and phrases that the general public may not know but that we use ALL summer long:

Assignment/Roll/Resource Order: When resources are ordered, sent to, and are assigned tasks for a fire or other incident. Usually in our home, this means Berkeley is sent somewhere and is there for at least 14 days. Sometimes assignments or resources orders can be for non-emergent reasons called Prepositioning and Severity. These are all monitored using ROSS.

Base 8's/Duty Week: The regular number of hours worked per week. Usually 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This excludes any overtime.


Crew: An organized group of Wildland Firefighters under the leadership of a designated Crew Boss or Captain or Superintendent. Berkeley's crew is assigned to an engine, but can also be ordered as just his crew.

Duty Station: The place Berkeley checks into for his regular work days. Specifically, Berkeley works from a Work Center at a Helibase. Other people in this line of work report to Ranger Stations or District Offices.

Engine: A general term for a ground vehicle that provides pumping, water, and hose capacity as well as a specified number of personnel.

FFT (1/2): This Berkeley's official title. He is a Firefighter Type 2. Officially this means that his primary function is the suppression of fire. Seems like a no brainer but you'd be surprised how many people don't get it. 

Incident: Officially listed as an occurrence either human-caused or natural phenomenon, that requires action or support by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources. All incidents are given a rating with 1 being the highest most extreme, and 5 being the lowest, and smallest fires.

ICT(1-5): Incident Command. The person that is in charge of the overall management of the incident. Incident Commanders are given a rating 1-5 just as incidents are. The lower the number, the more experience that person has, the bigger and more complex the fires that person can be in charge of coordinating. Incident Commander assignments in the upper levels are managed by ICS.

Mandos/R&R: Slang for Rest and Relaxation or Recuperation. After working base 8's for 14 straight days or being on an assignment for 14 days, all personnel are required to take a mandatory two days off. If they are on assignment, they can either take 1-2 days to travel home and have R&R at home, or in rare occasions they take R&R in place and continue their assignment.

Preposition: A resource order type where the resource is sent to a specific check-in location. Resources are sent to be in position for when an incident is imminent. Usually extreme weather is the precursor to these types of assignments. Prepositioning is an aid in cutting down response times to help keep fire sizes down.

Prescribed Burn: An intentionally ignited fire for management to meet specific objectives i.e.: clearing leaf litter, replacing soil nutrients, pre-suppression efforts etc.

Severity: Two different meanings for this one. When the fire danger level reaches Extreme, forests can request for Severity. There are high chances of lots of small fires within an area and their personnel is usually required to stay on forest and is no longer available to assist with off forest assignments. When a forest, or a district within a forest, requests Severity usually they are sent additional resources to help with day to day operations. So it can be a term used for forest status or a type of resource order.

So there it is. The Top 12 Fire Terms we use most in this house. This post comes as a precursor to another fire post I am working on. That post is starting to get quite lengthy and I noticed a lot of the text was me trying to define the terms I was using. I figured I would start with this because last time I posted about Berkeley's job I had some questions afterward.

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