Living among nature in Idaho brings with it both comfort and challenge. A wet spring brought lots of grass and sage -- what the fire department refers to as "fuel" for wildfires. To address a potentially explosive fire seasonFire departments and the Bureau of Land Management converged in the foothills for an annual review of wildfire fighting tactics.
In the event of a wildfire, a homeowners' first warning may well be a knock on the door from the fire department issuing a single, stark warning.
"Look, there's a fire coming. And we're leaving. And your house most likely is going to catch fire. So we're leaving and we're not going to be coming back. You need to leave now," said one of the trainers at the event today.
While it is true that the fire department is charged to save both life and property, they must perform a very careful assessment to determine how much effort to put into saving someone's home. The homeowner who has left many dangerous, unattended features in place at the time of a wildfire -- lots of combustible debris in the rain gutters, foliage that can easily catch fire, or dry wood stacked against the house -- may well return to their house in cinders.
"We will not risk ourselves to save property that is unable to be saved," said Captain Jeff Root of the Boise Fire Department. "But if you help us, we can help you," he said.
Defending your home can keep you, your home and firefighters safe. They'll do what they can to save it, but ultimately their primary duty is to save human life, not structures.