Preparations for INL's 2012 fire season under way
Firefighters at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory are preparing for the 2012 wildland fire season.
Every spring, the INL Fire Department reviews its fire preparation procedures and lessons learned from previous fires. This information is used to protect people, property and the environment at the desert site from future wildland fires.
Fire danger on INL's 890 square miles of high desert land west of Idaho Falls is expected to increase as the grasses and sagebrush dry during the summer.
"The INL did not experience much of a snow pack at all this winter,” INL Fire Chief Eric Gosswiller said. “That has contributed to more standing grasses carrying over into this fire season than we typically see. The green up of vegetation also seems to be a couple of weeks ahead of what we've seen the past few years."
Three fire stations are located at the INL site, each with wildland firefighting equipment. The fire department maintains four heavy, Type 4 wildland fire engines and a 3,000-gallon water tender. Wildland firefighting units are outfitted with onboard compressed-air foam systems capable of making heavy, clinging or water-saturated foam that suppresses and blankets flames and protects exposures.
"We have a well trained fire department that has developed extensive wildland firefighting experience as a result of the large fires that periodically occur at INL,” Gosswiller added. “We view each fire as a learning opportunity to further improve our response tactics while ensuring firefighter safety. We've also focused on improving our coordination with BLM and other agencies that assist INL in these large fires."