tv Reel America Initial Attack - Fire - 1979 CSPAN October 3, 2020 10:00pm-10:18pm EDT
archival films about firefighting and fire prevention. first, 1970 nine california forestry department film showing why the state is vulnerable to wildfires and how they fight them. in about 20 minutes, the fires of 1910, about a seminal series of all fires in idaho and montana that burned 3 million acres in 10 days and killed 78 firefighters. then, little smoky, a short service -- film telling the story of smokey the bear. fire department documents firefighting in the los angeles area and promotes firefighting practices. hot weather tomorrow with the possibility of thunderstorms tonight. >> some cloud build up and lightning activity. [thunder crashing] ♪
narrator: with winds from the northeast expected to reach up to 35 miles per hour in southern california -- ♪ narrator: california's summer and fall months are traditionally a time for vacations, time for traveling and camping in the great outdoors. chain -- seek quiet shade on a mound top. -- mountaintop. and a time for fires.
the area is teeming with people, cooking, smoking. working.even ground vegetation has been dehydrated weeks of hot sun with little or no rainfall. inevitably, there will be fires. some caused by natural phenomenon such as lightning strikes, but most caused by human beings. california's fire protection problems are unique among the 50 states and probably among the worst in the world. it is the most populous state in the union, with a network of roads affording access to most wildland areas. it has the widest variety of top all graffiti. -- topography. can be duplicated in
california in some season of the year. spring snow melt foster the growth of ground cover, and then abruptly, months of much sunshine and little moisture. vegetation drives to the consistency of gunpowder and the fire season is upon us. augmented, usually in september, by strong, drying wind. the problem is especially acute in southern california, where in three anas blast in or four day cycles and velocity can reach up to 70 miles per hour. any spark is a potential holocaust. small wonder that fire protection agency statewide respond more than 40,000 alarms per year. fort lee, few of this number
grow to more than 10 acres -- fortunately, few of this number grow to more than 10 acres. this due to a coordinated system of detection and communication among fire agencies, providing fast initial attack ground or air forces, or both when required. wildland fire protection in california is -- by the california department of for street and the u.s. forest service. additionally, were sick reppo -- reciprocal aid with nearly all city and county fire departments. the objective is for the necessary men and equipment to be on hand whenever and wherever needed. initial attack forces may vary widely from one crew to several engines, bulldozers and air tankers.
this is probably initial attack in its most basic form. one man with one pump. he was en route somewhere on business when he spotted the fire in its first stage and took prompt and effective action. if he had judged the fire beyond his capabilities, he would have her ordered it -- he would have reported it and more forces would have been underway. fire reports reach the dispatcher in the emergency command center from any number of sources, often from private citizens living in or traveling through an area adjacent to the fire's or jim. origin. u.s. -- fire's dark are manned don until -- dawn until dark and the fire season.
aircraft are used in high-risk areas, particular where there's been a history, or recent lightning action. the concept of initial attack is the dispatch of a preplanned level of forces necessary to contain a fire without theificant increase in first several hours. the dispatcher receiving the initial report has valuable assistance in determining the with his the force file of response cards. it is in-depth information catalogued through years of experience with fire control for any given area. within seconds after pinpointing the location of the reported ulls, the dispatcher p
the proper card and knows immediately what forces to dispatch. there are numerous variables in any fire situation, but the cards evaluate most of them. the type of terrain and accessibility to it, the type of fuel in the area, the burning index for that particular day, dry and windy or cool and cloudy. even resources and the threatened area are considered, whether timber, homes, or open watershed.rush, or obviously this was not a fire that could be handled by a man with a back pump, or even controlled at the initial attack stage.
the primary problem was one of inaccessible terrain, making an approach by fire engines impossible and making it time-consuming and dangerous. terror attack was the best solution to slowing down the fire until ground personnel could fight their way in for final control. [engines rumbling] although the fire burned three days, no lives or homes were lost.
♪ narrator: this blaze started not through malice, merely inattention and carelessness on the part of the operator. any internal combustion engine large or small is a hazard in a dry, grassy area. a must underrs are these conditions. early detection followed by prompt attack meant the fire was put out in an hour at minimal cost. the achievement of any worthwhile project requires someone in charge at the working level. in the case of a fire, it is a
fire boss. an initial attack circumstances, it is usually the station fire captain who assumes this responsibility. long-range fire suppression strategy may be planned in air-conditioned offices hundreds of miles away. infantry -- but the fire boss must meet the enemy face-to-face and make immediate decisions as to the best method of attack. the first site of a fire from several miles away may yield clues the color and density of smoke may indicate the type of fuel-burning. and the direction of the wind. ,pon arrival at the scene several quizzed -- several quick decisions must be made. one of the first and most important is whether the fire can be controlled with the men and equipment on the scene, or are additional forces necessary?
if more help is needed, the time to ask is right then, not several hours after the fire has spread beyond initial attack containment stage. montevista, 5372, we are 1097 off of highway 94. about 25 acres of moderate brush going up, the moderate rate of spread. dozer. crew and a narrator: having quickly evaluated the behavior of the fire, both present and probable future, the fire boss has decided what additional forces are necessary. now, as to the best method of attack, it is desirable of course to launch a direct flames with water on the on the perimeter. if this can be done safely, well and good. time will be saved.
often, however, the steepness of the terrain and the heat of the fire on the perimeter make it impractical and dangerous to approach directly. cases, thees -- such firebox will probably create a break by removing the fuel in a belt around the perimeter. bulldozers are the most valuable firefighting tools. natural barriers such as roads or small bodies of water can also be usefully incorporated into the fire break. once the break is completed, it must be carefully controlled until the fire is completely out. blow away anday start a new fire. the new process would have to begin all over again. fire situations be identical, but the firebox, in addition to having gone through -- fire boss, in addition to
,aving gone through training can anticipate the behavior of any given fire according to the weather and fuel conditions. experience is further backed up by a network of protection, communication and coordination with other fire protection agencies. additionally, fire prevention and education programs are constantly being implemented at every age level and occupation. without all of this, existence in suburbia might be a day-to-day challenge. the recorded statistics following a fire are not very exciting. they might read something like this -- excalibur found, grafton ,ounty, 1978, area burned 22,000 acres, timber and watershed. damages estimated at $6.5
million. cost of suppression, $2.7 million. probable cause, lightning. those five short lines reveal little of the thousands of man-hours sport in desha spent in training and preparing -- man-hours spent in training and preparing. dust, exhaustion and sometimes outright terror is faced by men on the fire lines. men in fire protection agencies twoly cherish parts -- phases in the work. the first is the fire that is contained in the initial attack phase. the other is a fire that is never started. ♪