Firefighter Safety Briefing for April 12 & 13, 2018


Ominous fire danger will be present both Thursday and Friday with subsequent fire danger remaining firmly in place through the weekend. The Fire Environment will support problematic and extreme fire behavior with potential for historic fire weather to occur over the most significantly drought influenced fuels. A dry line will push firmly into western Oklahoma with temperatures above 90°, single digit relative humidity and very strong southwest winds on Thursday. With minimal moisture recovery in the overnight hours and sustaining strong winds over extremely dry fuels, the burning period will last through Thursday night into Friday morning in the Panhandle, northwest and potentially far western Oklahoma. A cold front will push into northwest Oklahoma progressing through the state during the peak of the burning period. 

 A Red Flag Warning/Fire Weather Watch is currently in effect. Please refer to http://www.weather.gov/ for the latest updates to the fire weather forecast.

  • Fire Behavior predictions indicate that attacking the head of any fire - frontal assault should be avoided.

  • Establish a Staging Area at the onset of a wildfire incident and designate additional fireline leadership personnel to facilitate span of control and resource accountability.

  • Consider predicted rates of fire spread and, if needed, plan evacuation notifications accordingly. 

  • Forecast wind speeds and gust spread may 

 All firefighters are advised to take particular note of the 10 Standard Fire Orders with specific interest in the first three: (a complete list of the Standard Firefighting Orders below)

 Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.

  1. Know what your fire is doing at all times.

  2. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.

 Thursday:

Significant fire danger indices will exist across a broad area of the Southern Great Plains as a dry line pushes into Oklahoma. Temperatures into the mid-90°’s and relative humidity values in the single digits translate into fine-dead fuel moisture values of 2-5% and a probability of ignition approaching 100%. Southwest winds sustained 20-30+ mph will insure that any fire becoming established will likely exhibit extreme rates of fire spread and erratic fire behavior on Sunday. The burning period will last through the night and continue into Friday with poor overnight recovery.

  • Short Grass / Pasture: Maximum of 170-240 ft./min. (2.7 mph), head fire flame length 11 ft.

  • Tall Grass / Prairie: Maximum of375-500 ft./min. (5.7 mph), head fire flame length 18-31 ft.

  • Grass/Shrub/Redcedar: Maximum of120-190 ft./min, head fire flame length 10-20 ft. (Medium range spotting expected)


Friday:

Ominous fire danger indices are expected across a much broader area on Friday in the pre-frontal fire environment. Green up has been delayed with drought impacts and further set back by hard freeze conditions. Very poor overnight moisture recovery will encourage an early burning period ahead of a cold front that will pass during the peak of the burning period and effectively push the fire threat eastward. Fuels will be very receptive given the depth of drying in previous days. Southwest winds sustained as high as 35+mph with gusts nearing 50 mph will shift clockwise to the northwest with the passage of a cold front. Extreme fire danger will progress into and east of the I-44 corridor ahead of the cold front. Again, problematic fire behavior and extreme rates of fire spread are expected along with a change in direction of fire spread.

  • Short Grass / Pasture: Maximum of 190-270 ft./min. (3.1 mph), head fire flame length 10-12 ft.

  • Tall Grass / Prairie: Maximum of375-600 ft./min. (6.8 mph), head fire flame length 18-35 ft.

  • Grass/Shrub/Redcedar: Maximum of120-190 ft./min, head fire flame length 10-20 ft. (Medium range spotting expected)

 

Anchor the fire at advantageous point (road, creek, cold black) and flank the fire if utilizing direct firefighting tactics. Work the fire from the black if possible to provide for quick escape to a safety zone. Avoid placing yourselves in a situation where unburned fuel is between you and the fire. If protecting structures insure that ingress and egress are identified, escape routes and safety zones are identified and equipment is pointed in a direction to facilitate rapid escape. Establish trigger points for evaluating tactics and develop contingency plans should the primary plan not be successful.

All firefighters are advised to take particular note of the 10 Standard Fire Orders with specific interest in the first three: (a complete list of the Standard Firefighting Orders below)

 

  1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.

  2. Know what your fire is doing at all times.

  3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.

Resources:

  • Oklahoma Forestry Services will have multiple Task Forces prepositioned in Western, Northwestern and along the I-35 corridor.

  • USFS cooperating with OFS will have aviation resources available.

  • National Guard will have aircraft available.

  • County Wildland Task Force Resources should be prepared for mobilization.

To request assistance, call the Resource Hotline (800) 800-2481

Four common denominators of fire behavior on tragedy fires:

  1. On relatively small fires or deceptively quiet areas of large fires.
  2. In relatively light fuels, such as grass, herbs, and light brush.
  3. When there is an unexpected shift in wind direction or wind speed.
  4. When fire responds to topographic conditions and runs uphill. Alignment of topography and wind during the burning period should always be considered a trigger point to re-evaluate strategy and tactics.