Home > South Dakota > SD Ag Summit Part 4: Pictures from the wildland fire demonstration

SD Ag Summit Part 4: Pictures from the wildland fire demonstration

July 10, 2014

Day 1 of the SD Governor’s Agricultural Summit in Deadwood, South Dakota, included a wildland fire demonstration in Lead. It was a very interesting demonstration. Unfortunately the notes I took at the event became lost. So these pictures will be presented with only a little bit of commentary (my memory isn’t what it used to be). I will also keep my political commentary out of this post. These young men did a great job demonstrating their capabilities, let them be the spotlight of this post.

This demonstration was held at the Lead fire department, which is shown in the picture below. This facility is a little over a year old and actually highlights a situation where government bodies work well together. The facility represents a partnership between the City of Lead and the SD Wildland Fire Suppression Division (WFSD). Lead built the facility and rents part of it out to WFSD. The site is manned by the WFSD. This allows Lead to build a new facility the city would have been unable to afford otherwise. It also allowed to the state to house its wildland fire suppression unit in a new facility at a fraction of the cost compared to building its own facility. It was also noted that this facility had become the disaster headquarters during Atlas.

The picture below shows the two bay bays utilized by the wildfire division. The other side of the building has 5 bay doors on a lower level that houses the Lead fire department vehicles.

Back side of the Lead Volunteer Fire Department facility. Photo by Ken Santema

Lead Volunteer Fire Department facility. Photo by Ken Santema

Once a ‘report’ came in two early responders were at the site able to determine the scope of the fire.

First responders in fire suppression demonstration in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

First responders in fire suppression demonstration in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

There was constant communication between the fire suppression team and headquarters. Everything was done methodically and with risk management in mind. The power company was called to have the power shut off to the power lines that were directly overhead of the fire (well, at least a simulated shut off for this demonstration).

Comminications are critical for the SD wildfire suppresion unit. Photo by Ken Santema

Communications are critical for the SD wildfire suppression unit. Photo by Ken Santema

Once the fire was confirmed the truck immediately deployed from the facility.

Wildland fire team leaving the station. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire team leaving the station. Photo by Ken Santema

The wildland fire team was directly behind the truck. Normally they would have used mechanized means to reach the location, but this ‘fire’ was directly behind the station.

Wildland fire suppression team approaching the fire location. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire suppression team approaching the fire location. Photo by Ken Santema

The team did not appear to make any random maneuvers. Each move appeared to be carefully planned. The ability to do so shows this team is either well-experienced or well-trained. Probably a mixture of both. During the demonstration a second fire was started outside the scope of the current fire. It was interesting to watch the team react to this separate fire. Another interesting tidbit was the fact the team uses backpacks to deploy the hoses. Doing so allows the team to quickly deploy hose through rough terrain.

The wildland fire suppression team work as a well-oiled machine. Photo by Ken Santema

The wildland fire suppression team work as a well-oiled machine. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire suppression team working together. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire suppression team working together. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire suppression team works until there are no signs of fire. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire suppression team demonstration in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildlife fire suppression team in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildlife fire suppression team in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildlife fire supression team in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildlife fire suppression team in Lead. Photo by Ken Santema

The outfit worn by a wildland fire suppression team member is somewhat different from that of a traditional fireman. They have to wear this gear for days on end. They also carry a butt pack that includes all the survival items they need to live out on the line for up to two days without being resupplied.

Wildland fire team member showing the gear he wears. Photo by Ken Santema

Wildland fire team member showing the gear he wears. Photo by Ken Santema

Gear stowed away by wildlife fire team member to survive for 2 days. Photo by Ken Santema

Gear stowed away by wildlife fire team member to survive for 2 days. Photo by Ken Santema

Another interesting note brought up is that sometimes prisoners are used as volunteers on this team. They will then often become members of volunteer fire departments when their time is done being served. That actually seems like a great reform case coming out of the penal system.

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