MNICS crew leaders look ahead to summer wildfire season
Nearly 45 Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) Type-2 initial attack crew members and facilitators met at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) on Wednesday (05.31.17) to train, participate in field exercises and establish crew cohesion before heading to national wildfires. Read More »
Sparse precipitation creates abnormally dry conditions
Spring wildfire season is essentially over except for northwestern Minnesota that remains abnormally dry. A U.S. Drought Monitor map shows lack of precipitation in that region compared to the rest of the state. Wildfires can start easily in northwestern Minnesota and spread at a higher rate. Minnesotans are asked to be careful with campfires and outdoor recreation this Memorial Weekend.
During spring 2016, all three Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) teams were mobilized to wildfires, mainly in the Arrowhead. So far this year, there have been no team assignments. However MNICS Team A is gearing up for the 2017 Wildfire Academy, June 5-9 at Itasca Community College. About 700 participants will attend with some 100 instructors in courses from water pumps to air operations.
As of May 26, a total of 801 wildfires have occurred for less than 2,500 acres burned. The last aircraft request was May 20th for a total of 111 aviation dispatch requests to 63 wildfires during spring wildfire season. At its peak, when wildfire probability is highest, MNICS agencies have as many as 25 aircraft on call in the state. Next week three contract aircraft will remain along with the existing state and federal fleet aircraft.
Fewer wildfires meant less suppression but more prevention activity through prescribed fire. So far in 2017, MNICS agencies conducted 443 prescribed burns for 71,654 acres.
Issued early in May by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the summer wildfire outlook shows increased wildfire potential in the southwestern U.S., Florida and southern Georgia where conditions remain very dry. Yesterday the national planning level was raised to two (2).
Incidents such as the West Mims Fire in Georgia, which has burned 235 square miles, or the 47,000-acre Saw Mill Fire in Arizona, have contributed to twice the average number of acres burned, more than two million acres so far this year. However, NIFC predicts that the western wildfire season may start later due to abundant winter snowpack and late spring precipitation.
Meanwhile in Minnesota
As of May 16, 2017 Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) agencies report 461 wildfires for 2,263 total acres burned. That is 51 percent fewer wildfires than at this time last year. With less suppression activity, agencies have conducted 434 prescribed fires for 68,091 acres nearly doubling prescribed fires done by this time last year. Read More »
The U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA declare May 7 to 13, 2017 as Arson Awareness Week
In Minnesota from 2007-2016, there were 234 intentional wildfires set burning more than 14,000 acres*. It’s a crime in Minnesota to intentionally destroy or damage property, homes or land. Wildland arson is a felony and punishable up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine or both. Convicted arsonists may be liable for property loss and fire suppression costs.
Wildlfire arson cases can be difficult for investigation teams to solve because often they occur in remote areas. Call 1/800-723-2020 if you see someone setting an intentional fire. You may be eligible for a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest of persons involved in arson. Arson caused wildfires needlessly endanger firefighters, not to mention the public. Join the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office today (05.10.17) at noon for a live Facebook chat to talk about the Minnesota Arson Hotline and how information from the public plays a critical role in arson investigations.
*reported to the state
Prevention also reduces wildfires
“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” When comparing Minnesota’s spring wildfire season this year to last, Mark Twain may have had it right.
Bringing emergency partners together at Under One Roof event in Duluth
The Arrowhead Region Emergency Management Association (AREMA), Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) are partnering with Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) members for a sold-out table top exercise at Under One Roof, May 16 in Duluth.
A diverse group of 127 registrants – doctors, emergency managers, county officials – will participate in a ‘Ring of Fire’ exercise to learn what to do in the event of a catastrophic wildfire. HSEM sponsored the 9 to 11 a.m. exercise and AREMA and MNICS instructors have prepared the scenario based on the Bastrop County Complex Fire, one of the most destructive wildfires in Texas history occurring in 2011 that killed two people, destroyed 1,673 homes and caused $325 million in damage.
MNICS agency members have priority registration until April 28
Online registration for the 2017 Wildfire Academy, June 5-9, 2017, Itasca Community College is now open. MNICS agency members have priority registration. Mission Centered Solutions guest speaker Mark Smith is featured on June 7. Check the brochure for 31 courses including basic firefighter and air operations, aircraft dispatcher, introduction to incident information (S-203), crew boss, firing operations and more. Classes fill quickly and a $50 late fee applies for registrations after May 16. Questions? Contact Advanced Minnesota at 218/749-7731.
Apply by April 5th for assistant forest fire management officer positions in Chippewa & Superior National Forests
Just in from the MNICS Dispatch Working Team
Get answers to single resource assignment questions. The “Mobilization Issues & Commonly Asked Questions” covers topics arising from the 2016 wildfire season. Check it out. Stay tuned for the 2017 MOB Guide, Wildfire Academy brochure and Minnesota Fire Suppression Field Pocket Guide. Also, the 2017 EACC MOB Guide is now available.
Indication of spring fire weather ahead?
With temperatures up nearly 20 degrees above average over the weekend, and due to a historic 18-month warm streak in Minnesota, time will tell if an early spring fire season is ahead.
A front this evening drove strong winds into western and southern Minnesota, which will continue through Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Warm temperatures and high winds dry fuels and reduce relative humidity (RH) making it easier to burn. Probability for ignition is 60 percent with rates of spread at 150 chains per hour, should fire ignite in high winds.
Earlier today, the National Weather Service-Sioux Falls issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and northwest Iowa. Wind and fire danger advisories are likely to continue there tomorrow.
This front triggered conditions causing the first 2017 tornado watch in the state (earliest ever) until 10 p.m. today, March 6th. Check the Chanhassen-NWS website tomorrow for wind advisories (up to 60 m.p.h. gusts) in some parts of the state with increased fire potential (Mike Locke, DNR contributor).
Applications due March 15
Interested in being on a MNICS Type-2 initial attack crew? Here’s your chance.
2017 Wildfire on Ice raises $18K
The sixth annual Wildfire on Ice (WOI) successfully raised nearly $18,000 this year at the Jan.14 tournament. Hockey players from as far away as Alaska and Missouri competed among four teams at the Walker Area Community Center. In a 9-4 upset, the Department of Interior hooked the championship beating the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) team that had the title for three years. Proceeds from raffle tickets, swag sales, silent auction bids and donations will benefit the Walker Area Community Center, youth hockey and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF).
Cody was a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wildland firefighter who assisted on Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) fire crews. We respect, appreciate and thank Cody for his dedication and service. Details are here.
New series aims to educate about the role of wildland firefighters and how they serve the public
The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) and the Northeast Interagency Support Cache is closed Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 and Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Otherwise, business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Weekends call 218/327-4558 to leave a message or reach the duty officer in an emergency.
Nearly 125 participants attended the 2016 MNICS annual meeting in Duluth, Dec. 6-8, 2016. Featured speakers included Dr. Harvey Goldstein, Kari Greer and Dan Smith. Working teams gathered to choose chairpersons, work on projects and set priorities for 2017. You can view photos from the annual meeting on the MNICS Facebook page. Award recipients are listed below: