Wildland Fire Behavior Class at the Fire Station

Around forty local residents attended the Wildland Fire Behavior Class held today at the Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Station.  Chief Crabtree was the host and recently retired Cal Fire Battalion Chief Barry Rudolph was the speaker/educator.

In one sentence, I have a new and even “huge-r” respect for our fire fighters.

Much of the class was to enlighten the audience on the behavior of wildland fires.  But it also related to the defensive space clearing that we do literally in our own back yards.  I can’t begin to go into the content of the class because it’s still swimming in my head.  But I think these photos are worth a whole lot of words:

Back parking lot of fire station
Barry took us into the back parking lot of fire station to have a good look around.

To the right of the photo above is a ‘jungle’.   Pine needles are thick and dry.  Along with downed logs and dead branches they are just waiting for an ember.  And then the flames can jump right up into the trees and tree tops.

Ground and ladder fuel abound in this area
Ground and ladder fuel abound in this area behind the fire station. Although it looks as if it’s part of the station’s property, it’s not. It belongs to Cal Trans.
Across Sugar PIne road.
Across Sugar Pine road! Check out the ladder fuel tangled in those trees.  Dry grass (vertical) and dry pine needles (horizontal).  Then the dense thickets of trees full of dead tangled dry branches to catch the flames from a ground fire and carry them up to the tops of the trees.

Just behind the fire station back parking lot:

Ideal spacing of trees and removal of ground and ladder fuel
Ideal spacing of trees and removal of ground and ladder fuel.

As a Defensive Space Volunteer inspector (VIP-volunteer in prevention) I really listened to what Barry had to share with us.  This is why I pound the pavement in our community 5 days a week doing the property inspections with several other team members.  We’re just about done with second round inspections.  I hope homeowners understand that we’re not trying to be punitive with the inspections.  We’re trying to guide our community to safety.  Believe me, we know how difficult that is with all of the downed trees and the debris around them.  The frustration we feel is when a property owner hasn’t even attempted to clean their property.  Off my soap box.

From Retired Cal Fire Chief Barry Rudolph:  As far as the defensive space around your home:  Clear it to save your investment.  Don’t clear it because of the law, clear it for your own peace of mind.

As I said at the beginning, I can’t begin to repeat the content of the class but when it’s offered again next year I would highly recommend taking it.  You’ll learn about how winds affect fires, the aspects of a fire triangle, how to read the clouds, why dogwoods grow where they do, what three things affect the forest.  Hint:  Man.  Bugs.  Fire.

Blythe's summer signature


It was a great class. Barry was good and kept it light and we learned a lot.
Thank you Larry for putting on the class.  -Shirley Vierth




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