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Boise Fire Department trains for wildland fire risk

Grassfire risk increases in SW Idaho
Posted at 1:56 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 16:28:13-04

BOISE, Idaho  — The 284 firefighters working at the Boise Fire Department do it all.

A day’s work can include car accidents, health concerns, house fires and also wildland fires - a growing threat in Idaho.

“You gotta be ready for everything and that's what fire service does. We're the face that shows up when people call for help,” Boise Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Brian Ashton said.

Ashton said this spring staff are training specifically for wildland fire calls as the season grows longer over time.

“When I started 30 years ago in the fire service here in the Treasure Valley, typically it was July 1st through the end of September was our grass fire season, and after that we went back to just concentrating our efforts on other things, and that’s changed. That’s changed quite a bit,” Ashton said.

Grassfire risk increases in SW Idaho

Today, the department is always prepped with gear and personnel for a wildland fire outbreak.

“We're ready all the time. All of our brush vehicles and all of our gear that we have, we keep that available all year round just in case something were to happen,” Ashton said.

Related: Water managers discuss current drought conditions after active weather patterns

Surrounding agencies are there to help the cause.

“As the wildland fires increase duration, you're just going to have be exposed to more risk no matter where you live in the West,” Bureau of Land Management Fire Mitigation Specialist Jared Jablonski said.

Jablonski said the BLM serves as a resource for homeowners and firefighters as fire weather days increase.

“The trend as of the last several years is that fire seasons tend to be, start a little bit earlier and last a little bit longer in this area,” Jablonski said.

The southwestern valleys of Idaho have seen an increase of 26 hot dry and windy days over the past five decades, according to data compiled by Climate Central.

Fire season has grown in SW Idaho over past five decades
Fire season has grown in SW Idaho over past five decades, according to data compiled by Climate Central

Jablonski said the current conditions in the region create potential for large active fires later this summer, but everyone plays a role in how this season will ultimately go.

“The shot of moisture we've gotten in the last couple of weeks has really increased the amount of grasses out in the public lands,” Jablonski said. "In our area, 85% of the fires last year were human caused wildland fires. So they're all, those are all preventable fires.”

Related: Boise Fire practices for busy season

Jablonski had these tips for helping prevent fires:

  • When going onto public lands, check fire restrictions for the area and follow the rules on campfires, smoking, and more. 
  • Be wary of how your vehicle can start fires. Don’t park over dry grass, and don’t drag chains. 
  • Stay updated from multiple agencies in one location at IdahoFireInfo.com
  • Remember you can be held liable if you’re found negligent in causing a wildfire.