WILDFIRE TRAINING IN PORT LUDLOW SATURDAY & SUNDAY, JUNE 1 & 2

Photo courtesy Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue

Multi-agency exercise set for June 1 & 2

PORT LUDLOW—Wildland fire fighting is dangerous work. It requires a set of skills and competencies that are obtained through passing educational courses and demonstrating proficiencies during training associated with various positions.

A two-day exercise is planned for June 1 and 2 in Port Ludlow at the Trail 9 golf course, a now-closed nine-hole course. This will be the third year the exercise has been conducted in Port Ludlow. Agencies participating include Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, East Jefferson Fire Rescue, Quilcene Fire Rescue, Brinnon Fire, Discovery Bay Fire, Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Navy Region Northwest Fire and Emergency Services, Department of Natural Resources, US Forest Service, North Kitsap Fire Rescue, Clallam County Fire #2, #3 & #4. Participants will be camping overnight at the training site in order to better prepare them for response to extended fire operations.

As in past years, the training will involve basic hose and water system deployment; personal protective equipment and shelter deployment; nine-line safety deployment; fire line creation/management; crew management and deployment, basic fire tactics; fire scene preservation and basic cause determination for the first day of the exercise.

The second day of the exercise will involve the Department of Natural Resources Helitack or “helicopter-delivered fire resources,” the system of managing and using helicopters and their crews to perform aerial firefighting and other firefighting duties, primarily the initial attack on wildfires. The exercise participants will learn the operation and safety of the Helitack; live fire management and mop-up; training area management and preservation followed by after-action briefings, taskbook evaluations and demobilization procedures.

The goal for fire fighters is to earn their “Red Card” which has been called the “driver’s license of wildland firefighting” because like to a driver’s license, the Red Card is proof that a fire fighter has completed all the coursework and training required to be on the fire line and work in specific roles. The Red Card also documents any additional positions a fire fighter may be in the process of earning.

Two things are required each year to maintain the Red Card. The first is NWCG’s Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher. This course re-emphasizes the importance of safety on the fire-line. It includes a practice fire shelter deployment and a pack test.

The management system for certification is called the Incident Qualification and Certification System (IQCS) and is used by all federal agencies and most states, including Washington.

All Jefferson County fire districts use courses from the National Wildland Coordinating Group (NWCG) as part of the certification process to obtain a Red Card. NWCG standards establish common practices and requirements that enable efficient and coordinated national interagency wildland fire operations. These standards may include guidelines, procedures, processes, best practices, specifications, techniques, and methods. NWCG standards are interagency by design; however, the decision to adopt and utilize them is made independently by the individual member agencies and communicated through their respective directives systems. (https://www.nwcg.gov/ )

Because wildland fire fighting is strenuous, to obtain a Red Card the fire fighter must demonstrate physical stamina.  This demonstration is done with a pack test that involves a three-mile hike with a 45-pound pack that must be completed in less than 45 minutes.  There are three levels depending on the job a fire fighter is testing for. Primary fire fighters are required to pass the most rigorous, arduous level of the pack test.

“It has never been more important to get fire fighters trained to fight wildland fires in our area. Personnel need to know how to work collaboratively between agencies, train to the same tactics and strategies and adapt to a wide variety of fuel models, topography and conditions as seamlessly as possible” said Port Ludlow Fire Chief Brad Martin. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (nifc.gov), the potential for more wildland fires state-wide this year is high.

Due to the nature of the training, vehicle movement, helicopter operations and a planned live fire evolution, we are asking the general public not to plan to observe the training. This will be a dynamic training event and the need to ensure the safety of bystanders, balanced with training evolutions would impede the training event significantly.

Fire fighters receive final instructions before beginning a day of training at last year’s Wildland Fire

Fighting Training in Port Ludlow. This year’s exercise will be a two-day event.

MAINTAIN DEFENSIBLE SPACE

Document from CAL FIRE –  http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/
Keep your property lean and green to help protect your family and home.

Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

Defensible Space Zones

Two zones make up the required 100 feet of defensible space.

Zone 1
Zone 1 extends 30 feet* out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation).
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Relocate wood piles into Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2
Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches.

* San Diego County requires 50 feet of clearance in Zone 1. Check with your local fire department for any additional defensible space or weed abatement ordinances.

Plant and Tree Spacing

The spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees is crucial to reduce the spread of wildfires. The spacing needed is determined by the type and size of brush and trees, as well as the slope of the land. For example, a property on a steep slope with larger vegetation requires greater spacing between trees and shrubs than a level property that has small, sparse vegetation.

Vertical Spacing
Remove all tree branches at least 6 feet from the ground.

Allow extra vertical space between shrubs and trees. Lack of vertical space can allow a fire to move from the ground to the brush to the tree tops like a ladder.

To determine the proper vertical spacing between shrubs and the lowest branches of trees, use the formula below.


Example: A five foot shrub is growing near a tree. 3×5 = 15 feet of clearance needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch.

Horizontal Spacing 
Horizontal spacing depends on the slope of the land and the height of the shrubs or trees. Check the chart below to determine spacing distance.

FIRE-SAFE LANDSCAPING

Fire-safe landscaping isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard. Fire-safe landscaping uses fire-resistant plants that are strategically planted to resist the spread of fire to your home.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your landscape fire-safe. And fire-safe landscaping can increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home

FIRE HAZARD REPORT

The following has been received from our local Fire Chief:

Good Afternoon, et al.,

I must first apologize for the length of this email, and any perceived delays on my response to the grass/fire hazard issue on the closed 9 golf course. I would like everyone to be explicitly clear that regardless of any perceptions, insinuations or other beliefs that this issue is not critically important to myself, or the incredible staff (administration, Fire Commissioners or firefighters) of your Port Ludlow Fire District. I want to assure you that we are absolutely committed to the safety and protection of each and every person in our fantastic community.

I have gone through the emails I have received or been sent in an attempt to encompass as many stakeholders into this email as I can. Unfortunately, I am sure there are some I have missed or am not aware of that have a vested, or general, interest in this issue. Please forward this to anyone you may think would want to be included.

Over the recent weeks, there has been a very active discussion regarding the vegetation on the closed 9 course at various levels; email groups, social groups and within the PLVC committee structure. Unfortunately, with so many people involved, it is pretty much impossible to coordinate a well-represented meeting to address the fire danger concerns. It is important to ensure the input is based on facts, research, expertise and an interactive conversation to address the particulars and details of the issue. As we know, email is a great way to get information out, but unfortunately it is one dimensional and is open to interpretation, personal bias, distraction/deflection/rhetoric and amending of addressee’s. I realize there is a lot of passion and emotion invested in this issue and I do not want to minimize anyone’s position on the subject. However, I also understand that there will be some that do not agree with my findings, which is absolutely fine. The beauty of our country is the freedom of opinion and free speech.

On Tuesday August 28th, I visited the entire closed 9 Golf Course with Chief Brian Tracer and Chief Don Svetich. For those that are not aware of the names, I am your local Fire Chief (Port Ludlow Fire) who has a vast experience in the fire service for over 30 years (Including an extensive background with California Wildfires). Chief Tracer is the appointed Jefferson County Fire Marshal, through the Jefferson County Department of Community Development. Chief Svetich has an exceptional background in Wildland Firefighting, here on the Olympic Peninsula and Nationally, and is the Jefferson County Fire Chief’s expert in Wildland Firefighting. I give you this VERY brief overview, as I want to assure you that I solicited reputable fire service perspectives for my response. I have taken into consideration numerous sources of information to include, but not limited to: emails, mailings sent to my office (with pictures), input from the aforementioned Chief Officers, in field observations and examinations of the course, the safety and protection of our community, accessibility to the area for fire service apparatus, fire history in the area, fuel models, topography, and a number of other considerations, some of which depend on a deeper understanding of fire dynamics that are not readily explained in an email.

Before we toured the golf course, I only informed the other Chiefs that there is concern from some of the community members regarding the fire danger and PLA’s plan to allow the natural landscape to retake the golf course. During the infield inspection, we got out periodically and walked the area, checking the fuels, soil, weather, etc. When we completed the tour, there was consensus that the 8 foot mow strip PLA is doing, in conjunction with the 6 foot cart path (totaling an average of 12-14 feet) is an acceptable barrier to the conditions we observed. This took into account the higher fuel moistures in the timber line and the green belt the homeowners have between their homes and the course. One may argue that the mowing hasn’t been completed in a while and needs to be re-done. However, it is obvious that it was not mowed long ago, and it does not take long for the grass to grow back. However, with the weather as it is, I would not recommend any mowing under current conditions.

I’ve attached Mrs. Oemichen’s email below, as she points out some very valid points. We, the community, have a responsibility to do our part in preventing fires. I definitely want to point out that the homeowners are doing a fantastic part by maintaining the greenbelts on their properties. Our community enjoys the beauty of our location. It is in what the fire service considers a “Wildland Urban Interface (WUI),” which means we live in a rural, forested terrain that abuts to our properties and the fire hazard will always be a risk. Mrs. Oemichen’s email lists some great resources for research and awareness (again, my reason for attaching her email). As Edgewood is a Fire Wise community, there is much we can do individually to reduce the risk, but the risk will never be alleviated in our community.

I appreciate those that have provided input and guidance. As stated earlier, I’m keenly aware of the level of passion, emotion and vested interest in this issue. I know some will appreciate my response and some will oppose it. Just understand that my response is based on the risk assessment, period. I am and always have been a very open and transparent Fire Chief, with a high level of ethics, values and professionalism.

Brad Martin – MS, EFO, EMT-P
Fire Chief
Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue
7650 Oak Bay Road
Port Ludlow, WA 98365
(360) 437-2236 Bus.
(360) 774-6311 Cell
(866) 367-2291 Confidential fax

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Brett and Sue Oemichen <brettandsue@q.com>To: Brett and Sue Oemichen Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:14:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Fire Prevention Information

Edgewood Neighbors,
After hearing about the concerns for grass fires in our area, I decided to do educate myself on the potential issue. Here is what I have learned:

Grass, brush, and forest fires have two causes – natural and human. Lightning is the main cause of natural grass, brush, and forest fires and accounts for 4% of total fire numbers. Fortunately, lightning is not a common occurrence on the peninsula.
Human causes account for over 90% of grass and wild fires.

Fortunately, we have no campfires on the “closed nine”; a burning ban is in effect for the entire peninsula so there should be no burning of debris; and typically those who walk on the “closed nine” do not smoke while exercising. Arson is an unpredictable and uncontrollable cause. The “closed nine” is an area unknown to most not from Port Ludlow. It is difficult to predict if anyone in Port Ludlow would intentionally start a fire on the “closed nine”. I would hope not.

Grass and pine needles are considered light fuels for wild fires. Light fuels lose moisture quickly with a low relative humidity. After reading this, I checked the relative humidity (RH) at our home (which is near the “closed nine”) at 5:30 pm. It was 85%. This morning at 7:00 am it was 95%. I plan to monitor the RH at our home throughout the next week. Again luckily for us, we very rarely have temperatures over 80 near our home (and close to the “closed nine”) and the relative humidity usually does not get very low.

There are several websites to get more information on grass and wildfires. NFPA has very good information for homeowners on fire prevention and fire protection. The following is from the NFPA:

Edgewood Village is a certified Firewise Community. The following is from the NFPA website. For more information, follow this link to the Firewise page on the Edgewood web site: https://www.plsbca.org/edgewood/hoaBiz/firewise/index.php

My hope is for our community to not succumb to the scare tactics of some, but to instead educate ourselves to the real risks, make sure that our own property is protected by following Firewise recommendations, and to continue to learn and work together for a better community.

Your neighbor, Sue Oemichen

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT – BLOCK CAPTAIN FAIR

4:00 pm at the Bay Club – Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Keynote speakers:
Lynne Sterbenz, Director of Emergency Management for Jefferson County
Brad Martin – Fire Chief of Fire District-#3 –Port Ludlow
Pat Lohrey – Emergency Management Coordinator for South Bay
Ginny Munger – Emergency Management Coordinator for North Bay

And introduction of Port Ludlow’s new Director of Emergency Management:
Danille Turissini

Break Out Session Topics:
Grab and Go Supplies
Preparations for Special Needs Residents and Pets
Shelter–In-Place
Block Captain Liability Issues
FRS and HAM Radio Communication
Map Your Neighborhood

.…..and then……
Pizza and Prize Raffle

CLOSED SATURDAY JUNE 17th – Trail Nine Golf Course/Timberton Loop

Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue will be hosting a wildland firefighting training field day at the closed Trail Nine Golf Course/Timberton Loop trail on Saturday, June 17, beginning at 8 AM until 3 PM. The parking lot off Timberton Drive will be closed to the public to allow fire crews a place to stage their apparatus.

Any questions or concerns could be sent to Port Ludlow Fire and Rescue Chief Brad Martin At 360-437-2236.

Thank you for your cooperation and for allowing your fire service to use local properties for training purposes.

APPOINTMENT OF NEW DISASTER PREPAREDNESS DIRECTOR

Rob Stern has been appointed Disaster Preparedness Director by the PLVC Board of Directors. Port Ludlow has been without a Director for almost a year and Mr. Stern brings significant experience to this role. He is the founder and principal of Defense Research, LLC, which develops advanced media for civil defense and emergency response information systems. He has developed a Citizens’ Emergency Response Guide which contains considerable disaster preparedness information and self-help articles. It can be accessed at www.911emg.com. The Port Ludlow Disaster Preparedness organization involves about 100 volunteers throughout the Community and its mission continues to be threefold:

  • Educate residents
  • Be a communications vehicle
  • Foster self-help when needed

Following a disaster, information can be radioed to Communications Centers at the Bay and Beach Clubs and then is relayed to Jefferson County Emergency Management and Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue. An updated Disaster Preparedness Plan will be developed by Mr. Stern along with assistance from North Bay Coordinator Joe Lanjiahr and South Bay Coordinator Pat Lohrey. The first event of the new organization will be a Community Preparedness presentation by the American Red Cross in March. Details to follow.