KENNEWICK, WA- A couple local firefighters have finally made it back home after first going to the Snake River Fire in the southeastern part of Washington then to the Fletcher Road Fire near Walla Walla and then to the Palouse Falls Fire on Sunday.
We talked with two fire chiefs from our area on the fire season so far and how it's been different from last year. Fire Chief Bob Gear with the City of Pasco Fire Department tells us, "we have a saying that fire is the only teacher that gives you the test before the lesson".
However, last year's fire season was a lot different than this year, "we get a wet year like we had this year, a wet spring, some moisture this summer, more of a desert year, the stuff up high, three four thousand feet is still pretty green". When the drought happens the higher elevation areas are more likely to catch fire than the lower elevation areas. This year, the lower elevation areas were most likely to burn. Luckily, this spring they had a wildfire workshop with the Department of Natural Resources and that helped prepare their incident management teams and plans for the summer. Fire Chief of Benton County Fire District 1, Lonnie Click tells us, "we were successful two teams at a time in the field and actually have a third one rostered, that's a big deal, that's come a long way from how we used to do things, about one and a half teams".
There are three types of teams, type one is on a national level and deals with the most complex. Type two is smaller and deals with regionally less complex incidents and finally type three is localized made of 16 to 20 people.
Gear tells us, "really the incident commander takes care of the team and the team takes care of the incident". Both fire chiefs take turns as incident commander or operations manager. In fact, the two fire chiefs have been working together for 30 years and are happy to see the incident teams grow and strengthen over the years.