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Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Feb 28th, 2016, 12:02 am
by Drip_Torch
A man who saved his home from the Rock Creek wildfire last August is calling a proposed amendment that would allow police to arrest those not following evacuation orders “ludicrous,” “stupid” and “just wrong.”

A discussion paper recently released by the provincial government recommends following Manitoba’s lead, in giving police greater authority in times of emergency.

This would include providing police with the right of entry to a home, which under usual circumstances requires a warrant, the use of reasonable force to enforce an evacuation order, and the authority of the province to force the apprehended individual to pay for the costs incurred in the arrest.


Read more: http://www.castanet.net/news/BC/159474/ ... -ludicrous

I understand the perspective of the proponents to these changes, wildfire is dynamic, dangerous and at times can present a fast paced environment that easily outpaces resources and the command structure responding. However, I see these changes as a misguided step in the wrong direction – those that can should, and those that are delivering the evacuation notices, should be released from liability, as quickly as possible, so that they can move on with their task and get themselves to safety.

Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people should leave when advised to so, and an excellent case in point can be found in a NFPA video staring Randolf Mantooth (Johnny from “Emergency”) in which, he discusses his own loss and near tragic encounter with a wildfire in LA. But, if we really want to get a handle on losses we’re going to have to move towards a community build model that sees “shelter in place” as a viable alternative.

The popular narrative around Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) issues suggests that forces such as fuel loading; the result of aggressive wildfire suppression policies, and climate change, have run head long into unchecked rural and urban sprawl, to create a new problem that British Columbia is struggling to come to terms with. IMHO, the popular narrative is a snapshot of modern history and while these forces, are undeniable in their compounding of WUI issues in British Columbia, history suggests that there are also other, more culturally based forces, at play – as well.

In my observation, British Columbia, enjoys a success story like no other jurisdiction on this planet when it comes to WUI fires, but unfortunately, this story has been all but lost in our national wildfire narrative. I won’t get to deep into my views, but the bullet to this post is “ownership”. Somehow, we’ve come to understand that Wildfires are the exclusive domain of the authorities.

What this means is when we see an ember landing next to a piece of vital infrastructure our role, as mere mortals, is to point a camera at it to catch the drama, and in the worst of cases that camera catches someone else, with a camera, that recognizes the opportunity to take a rocking selfie.

The-Fire-Selfie.jpg

I watched this one go down live and it really was just as baffling as it looks, the TV camera crew was just as shocked at the guy taking the selfie, as I was at them for simply pointing a camera in that direction. Yes, I’m suggesting that sometimes it’s entirely appropriate to simply put it out and I’ll tell you a secret – we still do that in BC.

Moments after the selfie artist finished his business, a police car arrived in the neighbourhood advising residents, from the loud hailer, that they did not have time to evacuate and that they should run to the school yard now. The cruiser stopped on the way by the transformer and an officer stomped out the small but threatening grass fire while the cruiser continued wailing the alert to the neighbourhood. Two minutes later the Calvary, in the form of a strike team of structural engines, arrived in a bump and run tactical operation that saw them quickly hit the spot fires, and knock down the wildfire in the rear yards of the neighbourhood. Twenty minutes later the strike team left the neighbourhood to a lone structural crew to patrol.

Obviously, we don’t have the luxury of the depth of resources that San Diego Country enjoys and this is especially true in rural BC, like Rock Creek, where there is no established fire protection district. However, this should not make us hapless victims of the environment that we live in, and we should be allowed the opportunity to adapt, innovate and overcome the challenges that we face. People that have a plan, experience and the tools to patrol their own property and interests, should be empowered to do so. This puts more boots on the ground, more eyes in the neighbourhood and allows Communities to take ownership of the issues through all stages. (Pre-org to recovery).

In closing this post, I’ll leave you four points to consider:

1. Evacuation is not without risks, I can pull on dozens of cases from around the world that have resulted in fatalities during the evacuation, which could have been avoided.

2. Harm, in the history of BC, I am aware of less than a dozen cases of bruised egos caused as a result of someone saying, “Thank you, I’m aware of the evacuation order, but I’m going to stay behind and look after my property”. - I’m not aware of any other harm.

3. The threat of fire strikes a primal autonomous response that humans are hardwired towards through the medulla oblongata. A pea sized gland like structure in our brain that controls fight or flight. The vast majority of people told they need to evacuate due to fire won’t give it a second thought, because by nature, us humans need to be trained to think about such things.

4. During a wildfire event in a community the police have no valid reason to enter a house. Living near a wildfire is not a crime. During the wildfire, the fire dept. may need to enter a house to deal with fire, or after a wildfire, the building dept may need to enter the house to inspect the structural integrity and safety. Both of those agencies are currently enabled to do what needs to be done through existing legislation.

IMHO - If you don’t have the tools, a plan and the wherewithal, to deal with and understand what you’re up against, you should leave as ordered, but if you have the experience, the tools and have invested in a plan, you should not be criminalized for attempting to mitigate your losses in what is becoming an increasingly foreseeable natural event.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Mar 2nd, 2016, 11:14 am
by spokenut
I hope people can still recognize when there is something that can be done, like using a shovel or extinguisher to put a spot fire out, and not simply take a photo of it. I do not believe the police should be able to illegally enter a dwelling under an evacuation order, like the abuse that took place in High River, AB. Those citizens who are willing, able and equipped to protect their property should be left to do so, but what is the point of having an evacuation order, if it's not an order?
Also, do you really think all the people that choose to ignore an order are capable, and what about the ones that clearly don’t understand the situation they are putting themselves in?

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Mar 11th, 2016, 12:47 pm
by Drip_Torch
I hope people can still recognize when there is something that can be done, like using a shovel or extinguisher to put a spot fire out, and not simply take a photo of it. I do not believe the police should be able to illegally enter a dwelling under an evacuation order, like the abuse that took place in High River, AB. Those citizens who are willing, able and equipped to protect their property should be left to do so, but what is the point of having an evacuation order, if it's not an order?
Also, do you really think all the people that choose to ignore an order are capable, and what about the ones that clearly don’t understand the situation they are putting themselves in?


At the risk of seeming to be “that guy” with a camera that simply takes a photo, I’ll show you some of what I’ve noticed around my local hot spot for ignitions.

This:



… versus that:

roadside.jpg


Both of the above incidents took place on a 3km stretch of road that’s prone to roadside fires. For every big incident there are a number of little incidents, how many? I’m not sure, but I am aware of three before the bigger incident, and three after. The big incident caught everyone’s attention and at the end of the day, the fire was put out. The big incident, probably cost the BC taxpayer’s upwards of 475k+.

The small incident cost BFI (Progressive) two fire extinguishers, and someone else that was driving by, used about 3 dollars’ worth of fuel to pump about 100 gallons of water on it, before the fire department arrived. (hint: there’s no video)

The difference between the big incident and the many small incidents, besides the cost, – a public that cares, stops and takes action, while the fire is small and the risks are fewer. Truth be told, it happens all the time, and I’ve witnessed a number of fires where long before the authorities show up the public has started working it. If I could borrow the words of Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, "But, this is an example when an emergency happens, that there are amazing people who are willing to drop whatever it is they are doing to come to the rescue of someone in the community.”

So, if I had to apply a bullet heading to this post, I’d have to go with “a duty of care”. Because, it is precisely out of a duty of care that as the authorities arrive, be it the local AHJ, or the Province, they reign in and dismiss the public with a “thank you” – and for the most part the public’s role is downplayed. (Matter of fact, June through October, I wouldn’t even post this comment.)

I imagine, it’s out of a duty of care that sees this legislation even contemplated, but I’d suggest if you care so much that you’d contemplate hurting someone, you should stop and count to five, first.

Some points to think about while counting:
1. Rural BC doesn’t always have a fire department to mitigate fire losses.
2. Many people in BC possess training and/or experience in basic fire suppression.
3. Garnet, OMP, Rock Creek all offer examples of people that refused the evacuation order and remained behind to successfully protect their properties.
4. Large loss conflagrations only returned to BC in 1994, there was a 70 year absence, and that suggests we could be doing something different.
5. Slave Lake wasn’t taken out by a forest fire, in as much as, it was taken out by 100,000’s of embers from a forest fire.

What’s the point of an order – if it doesn’t have any teeth? Duty of care, I’d respond. An order says, someone that knows a good deal more than you do, thinks that things could get bad there, and you should leave. It says you’ve got to get out of there, within this time frame, because after that – you might not be able to. It says you’re running the risk of serious harm, or even death.

Randolf Mantooth, reader digest version: After years of playing a firefighter hero on the hit TV show “Emergency”, Mr. Mantooth decided to defy an evacuation order to stay behind and defend his home with a garden hose. It was a marginal effort at best, and when the water system went down it turned dire. The consequences he faced, he was on his own, he could have been severely injured, or killed. His life insurance policy likely wouldn’t have been too keen to pay out. He lost his house, while putting himself at great risk.

Rural BC is filled with loggers, ranchers, miners, construction workers, people, that I would suggest are more experienced and better equipped to understand, and deal with the situation, than a LA Actor.

The castanet polling suggests most people would prefer to see some sort of waiver. I’d like to see something different than that. I believe, if the opportunity exists to engage in a protracted confrontation with a non-compliant individual, then the opportunity exists to extend one more duty of care exercise.

I’d suggest a simple LACES assessment;

Lookout – does the individual have situational awareness where they are located, or are they mid slope and likely to be blindsided?

Anchor Point – does the individual have an anchor point that’s remotely defensible, or are they sitting on a red flag residence with no hope of quick remediation? Does the individual know the power and water systems are likely to fail?

Communications – Is the individual aware of the fact that communications are likely to be compromised if the situation deteriorates. Does the individual understand that the fire responders have a duty protect life and ensure their own crew safety? Do they really understand that they are on their own?

Escape Route – does the individual know that the escape route out of the evacuation area is likely to be cut off, and unsafe to travel?

Safety Zone – does the individual have knowledge of suitable safety zones, and safer zones that could be used to ride out the storm if things do get bad? (I’d weight this one over all others)

BANG, BANG, BANG… FIRE, blah, blah, blah, EVACUATION ORDER, blah, blah, x number of MINUTES, blah, blah LEAVE, blah! … And the Amygdala fires that primal response – fight or flight? That’s what it does, that’s all it does, we seldom argue with it, but we can overrule it, with reason.

So what if? The medulla fires off the flight signal, and someone that’s really ill-equipped interprets it as the fight signal?
It’s my humble opinion that both the individual and society, would be better served, on both the short and longer terms, by getting to the root of the issue through the LACES assessment. If an individual clearly doesn’t understand the dangers, doesn’t have a plan, or is remaining behind to livestream something cool on Castanet – then why not use existing tools and save this individual from not only this situation, but future potential incidents – as well. (Such as; balancing a steel stool on the top step of an aluminum ladder to paint the electrical service.

Mental Health Act BC
Emergency procedures
28 (1) A police officer or constable may apprehend and immediately take a person to a physician for examination if satisfied from personal observations, or information received, that the person
(a) is acting in a manner likely to endanger that person's own safety or the safety of others, and
(b) is apparently a person with a mental disorder.


I don’t mean that as a slight to anyone that would chose to say behind, or to suggest that should be the go to tool for non-compliancy. I do believe that as long as a person has a plan and is aware of how bad things could get, they could be left alone in good conscience, knowing that the duty of care was fully exercised. And, for the ones that truly don’t understand and clearly don’t have a plan – I feel it’s just better to get to root of the issue, rather than marginalize them further through criminalization.

While I would never encourage someone to ignore an evacuation order, I understand there are people that are equipped and knowledgeable enough to do so, and IMHO to criminalize those people is big step backwards. It strikes a counter-intuitive blow to the issue of ownership.

Above all else, I believe it’s always going to be better, for everyone, to have the authorities move on and get others and themselves to safety first.

[Technical Note: LCES vs LACES – if your job involves a couple heli flights and walk in a burning park, while tackling opportunities - LCES. But, if you’re driving $500k, with another $100k of equipment on it, it’s probably a good practice to be aware of the anchor point – always.]

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Apr 20th, 2016, 1:56 pm
by Drip_Torch
Hay farmer Cliff Bennett, 67, was battling flames at the front lines of one of BC's most threatening wildfires.

"At one time, I had 14 people pulling fire hose. I had a tractor, with a water tank on the back. There were quite a few dead old trees ... burning 20 or 30 feet up in the air. When they burned, they'd come crashing down. We had to be watching all the time. No one got hurt. Everyone looked after each other."

"Nope, I wasn't scared. The job had to be done. We done the best we could."


Read more at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.3543516

Is Cliff Bennett really the type of guy we want to be criminalizing and further jamming up our court system with?

There are two more days to join the discussion:

https://engage.gov.bc.ca/emergencyprogr ... cussion10/

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Apr 22nd, 2016, 4:10 pm
by Drip_Torch
FWIW... my post to discussion 10 - mandatory evacuations.

This is an absolutely abhorrent proposal that seems completely oblivious of British Columbia’s fire history and the significant cultural role it has played in furthering local governance. I hope that it will be completely abandoned in its entirety.

Necessity drives innovation and will continue to do so. From 1886 Vancouver to 2003 Barriere, wildfire, and the threat of large loss conflagrations, have shaped the way British Columbians govern themselves like no other force. This proposal is a counter-intuitive step backwards that threatens to make large swaths of British Columbia, home to victims of the environment they live in.

This proposal is aimed at competent individuals, and of course those individuals that are deemed incompetent can be removed pursuant to sections 28 & 29 of the Mental Health Act. I would suggest that it’s always going to be better, for everyone, to have those delivering the evacuation notices move on and get themselves and others to safety first. If time allows, those individuals that have refused to evacuate could be further evaluated using the LACES criteria.

Competent individuals recognize the current state of affairs in British Columbia and realize that we lack sufficient local resources to mitigate against losses during WUI incidents. Competent individuals understand that their efforts can be undermined by incompetent individuals that live in their neighbourhoods, hold properties in their communities, and sometimes hold offices in their public institutions.

It is well recognized and documented that neither the BC Building Code, nor Firesmart offer a silver bullet against WUI incidents, in fact, the BC Building Code is recognized as flawed, prior to the 2012 revisions, and whether or not those flaws have been rectified remains to be seen. This is compounded by the fact that some jurisdictions are dragging their heels on instituting the full set of revisions and others have almost completely abandoned the fire preventative measures inherent in their own zoning bylaws.

Evacuations are disruptive, leave communities vulnerable and are themselves, not without dangers. (Australia 2000, Greece 2003 and Glenrosa 2007) I would argue that “shelter in place” should become the community build model that we work towards, however, it will be generations before that can become a reality. Nothing will move this forward like the realization amongst the development community that wildfire prone losses are not as acceptable as some people seem to think.

I’ve been a casual student of WUI issues for the last 3 decades, and during the course of my investigations I have interviewed 100’s of individuals impacted by fires. During recovery most do okay, some do better than others, and some are completely devastated. But, all have a benchmark added to their lives. They’ll refer to things, both social and personal as “before the fire” and “after the fire” – it leaves a mark and that represents lost time and opportunity that affects all of us.

Local ownership of the issues, from pre-organization to recovery, is key to mitigating large loss fires and this proposal threatens that concept at it’s fundamental core.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Apr 22nd, 2016, 4:16 pm
by FreeRights
Good post, but I'm curious what you envision the application of "shelter in place" during a massive fire would be.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Apr 23rd, 2016, 7:12 pm
by Drip_Torch
FreeRights wrote:Good post, but I'm curious what you envision the application of "shelter in place" during a massive fire would be.


Shelter in Place is a commonly utilized emergency management technique for a number of scenarios, and in its most basic form it involves escaping a hazardous exterior environment by remaining indoors, usually in a smaller room with fewer windows, or openings to the exterior. (eg: NBC incidents, tornados, extreme weather events…) It's been kicked around as a concept in the wildfire world for about a decade or so, with no real hard set path on how to get there.

How would I envision Shelter in Place during a larger scale WUI event?

Well, first I suggest we need to backup and look at the problem for what it really is. I’d suggest we need to stop treating the symptoms and get on with the sweeping systemic changes required to address the problem. Wildland burning isn’t really a problem and I don’t feel any heart hurt when a few hectares of bush or forest burns – I understand it’s part of a natural cycle that’s essential to life as we know it on this planet. I really don’t see the point in continuing to focus on reacting to problems that we know, under certain circumstances, will be well beyond our capability to enact any meaningful intervention.

What I’m saying: we’re currently completely upside down in our approach and we can expect to continue to see diminishing rates of return. I certainly expect things to get worse, and so do other more learned authors on the subject.

Here’s a list of freshly minted phrases, from leading WUI wordsmith Stephen Pyne, for the decades ahead:

•“misdiagnosed the problem”

•“retrofitting houses”

•“irrationally exuberant sprawl”

•“fire repression”

•“translating ideas into programs”

•“pluralism of fire programs”

•“ill-sited McMansions”

•“climate change may flip the script”

•“fire equivalent of a flood plain”

•“emergency interventions rather than systemic reforms”

In my view, the funny thing about all of this is, all we really need to do is travel back in the time machine approximately 25 to 75 years ago, to a place known as British Columbia, and take a few notes on how they handled things differently. What I hope you’ll notice on this trip: progressive building codes, realistic zoning reforms, local resources and the collective will to stop large chain reaction conflagrations from wiping out our towns and cities.

Crazy? Look at Fernie, a town that burned down twice in 5 years and you’ll see a sprinkling of buildings that have survived for over a century. But really, you don’t even have to go that far, look at the older parts of many towns in the Okanagan and you’ll see the subtle differences, the basic devolution of our local government’s role in creating and maintaining safe environments in our Communities. You’ll see how we shifted the focus away from our community build environment and placed it on the environment – writ-large.

So, how do we go forward? Well, it’s up to us, perhaps it becomes an organic component of Building Resilient Neighbourhoods, or BC Healthy Communities . Maybe we codify it and adopt Firewise philosophies and become Firesmart; work towards Fire Adapted Communities. Perhaps we restore the Office of the Fire Commissioner as BC’s leading authority on fire/life safety issues and update the legislation, budget and staffing to effective levels. Maybe we just brush out that old path and take a collaborative approach whereby, we all acknowledge and take responsibility for our wildfire risk, and implement appropriate actions at all levels.

At very least I’d suggest we revaluate resident safety, homes, neighborhoods, forests, parks, open spaces, businesses and infrastructure, and start imagining how things could be different – very different. Instead of focusing on getting skillfully out of the way, we refocus on reducing the risk to the point that the things that matter the most, to most of us, will survive the inevitable wildfires with little or no intervention at all.

A shelter in place community build model happens with the confluence of good building regulations; skillful community planning, that recognizes the role of Zoning to compartmentalize fire risks; solid local emergency planning and thoughtful collaboration amongst all the stakeholders; with neighbours realizing neighbours are linked together by their exposure to a common wildfire risk.

Ultimately, it will be realized with some form of codified protocols that individuals can build a viable plan around. A plan to stay out of the way, and sit in a few hours, until things stabilize outside and they can get up and carry on with their lives.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Mar 25th, 2017, 5:00 pm
by Drip_Torch
Foreshadowing the catastrophe that happened 9 days after the last post in this thread is not something I’m particularly impressed with. In fact, there are times when it’s nothing less than frustrating to watch these situations. I have a tired set of eyes and while I may be able to calmly detach from the emotional issues, I do feel empathy towards those that took the losses, and those who stood to battle a situation that in many ways “the system” left them ill-prepared for. There are patterns to these things and what might look like intuition, or insight is really nothing more than an awareness.

Fort McMurray was a failure, in fact, the latest and largest in a series of cascading failures. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it meant to discount some of the incredible efforts, and successes, that happened inside the failure. It’s just a cold hard statement of fact to say the outcome fell beyond society’s expectations and we need to look at ways to increase the margin. I really have my doubts that anyone could present a congruent argument to suggest that it’s okay to have a vulnerability, such as this, in the modern world.

I think it time to revisit this topic and reinforce my POV as expressed in the posts above. 60,000 + people evacuated from a major population center and only two fatalities that may be attributed to the disruption. All in all, while sorry for the loss of two lives, I say hat’s off to the people of Fort McMurray, and the emergency management peeps, on a job well done.

My concern, going forward, is based on the impression the casual observer may have been left with from this experience. Hazard source control, (Firesmart) and early evacuation could be seen as the easy answer – right?

This not so casual observer says nope, it’s really not ever going to be that easy.

We live in a dynamic world that requires us to undertake hazardous processes. We manage risks, maintain margins, legitimize failures and strive to create dynamic solutions to well-structured problems. Hazard source control is but one control we utilize to increase the margins. Contemplate modern problems and you’ll find a set of dynamic solutions. Eg: building trades, falls from height – there isn’t a house or building around worth having someone risk their lives for, so do we gather up all the ladders and destroy them, or do we take a much more dynamic approach? It follows, we can’t proceed with WUI interdiction modeling, because it’s far too dangerous to have firefighters working on interface fires that get beyond the initial attack, but we’re okay with all the downstream risk that we take on as a result of that. That seems weird to me, especially in view of the fact that firefighters are left approaching these situations in an ad hoc manner, as if there were no interdiction paths possible, or this was the first time anyone had ever encountered the problem.

For a few days I was “glued”. Like most significant WUI incidents, I could see this one coming from a couple of days out and was following the social media feeds and watching for the cues from my usual sources.

In many ways, I saw exactly what I would have expected to see. In the early stages of the transition from wildland to the urban interface, neighbours helped neighbours to understand what was going on around them, but a large portion of the population remained oblivious of the hazards developing around them. Frankly, Mayor, Melissa Blake’s unofficial twitter updates and basic human instinct seemed to get the ball rolling much sooner than the official evacuation notices. Overall, people recognized when it was time to go and the vast majority of them left. In this instance, (and I think it’s particularly important to note this) people had evacuation routes that were extremely well maintained and offered very wide margins (15 to 30 meters) between them and the perils they were driving through. With 26,400 private dwellings and 2400 homes lost, it could easily be said; without those wide margins, maintained on the roads and highways around Fort McMurray, evacuation could have put people in harm’s way that otherwise wouldn’t have been so exposed.

The other important note: Fort McMurray, although isolated, had a very large capacity to shelter people in place until the situation around the highways stabilized.

Mass evacuation worked in this instance, mainly because Fort McMurray is a “template for success” in terms of wildland urban interface fires. Those aren’t my words, you’ll find them in chapter eight of the Firesmart manual, pages 8-2 and 8-3. Fort McMurray has been tested by fire a number of times; 1980, 1986, 1995, and was in fact, the location of the second largest wildfire in Alberta’s history. (The Richardson backcountry Fire – 2011) While apparently "not a Firesmart designated community” I doubt there is a jurisdiction in Western Canada that has performed quite as much mitigative hazard source control work.

Imagine, if you will, an organization in this valley that experienced a calamity that caused a lost time injury to 10% of its workforce today. I don’t really expect that it would be business as usual tomorrow. The same could be said for this occurrence – I don’t expect that it will be business as usual tomorrow. I’m aware of a number of investigations going forward and I look forward to reviewing the KPMG audit materials, and the Catastrophic Loss Institutes investigations.

Some of things I hope to see ferreted out in these investigations:

- Did the fuel modification work, in and around Fort McMurray, complicate and exacerbate the fire control problem. “The beast” it was said, showed unexpected fire behaviour and at least one official suggested it may cause a rewrite to the book. Could this unexpected behaviour be a result of the numerous linear disruptions in the boreal forest around the city? Push a line through the forest and you have a fire control line. Leave that line for a decade, or so, and you have a fire control problem. (“Linear disruptions” FERIC – it might be on the FP innovations site.) As luck would have it, just weeks before Fort McMurray popped onto the radar I watched a “Nature of Things” special on Caribou habitat. The gist, the forest in and around Fort McMurray was the most disturbed concentration of boreal forest in Canada. If it were really as simple as we’ve “interrupted the natural disturbance cycles” – Fort McMurray should have been one of the safest places on the planet.

- Are we trapped in a WUI fire disaster sequence by some of the popular primary assumptions contained in the WUI policy statements? Rigid institutional beliefs? Distracting decoy phenomena, neglect of outside complaints, multiple information handling difficulties? Are we minimizing emergent danger?

Turner 1976 (The Organizational and Interorganizational development of Disasters)
Public inquiries into behavior connected with three major disasters are examined and classified to study the conditions under which large-scale intelligence failures develop. Common causal features are rigidities in institutional beliefs, distracting decoy phenomena, neglect of outside complaints, multiple information-handling difficulties, exacerbation of the hazards by strangers, failure to comply with regulations, and a tendency to minimize emergent danger. Such features form part of the incubation stage in a sequence of disaster development, accumulating unnoticed until a precipitating event leads to the onset of the disaster and a degree of cultural collapse. Recommendations following public inquiries are seen as part of a process of cultural readjustment after a disaster, allowing the ill-structured problem which led to the failure to be absorbed into the culture in a well-structured form. The sequence model of intelligence failure presented and the discussion of cases are intended to offer a paradigm for discussion of less tragic, but equally important organizational and inter-organizational failures of foresight.
Administrative organizations may be thought of as cultural mechanisms developed to set collective goals and make arrangements to deploy available resources to attain those goals


Overall, my question is: Can we look at the Fort McMurray Fire…

Image

Oh wait…, not that one, (I’d suggest that one is the distracting decoy phenomena.) but this one;

1.jpg



this one;

2.jpg


And that one;

3.jpg



…And rule out any possibility that we’re currently experiencing man-made disasters exacerbated, to some extent, by the very same social constructs we’ve entrusted to protect us from these situations? Are we simply stuck in the disaster incubation stage by our overly polite and deeply apologetic Canadian nature?

I’d suggest, the horse river fire of May 1 wasn’t really the “wake up call”, as some authors have expressed. My opinion, the Horse River fire was very large wildland fire and the ignition source of the urban conflagration that took place on May 3. That urban conflagration was “a game changer” – the wake up calls were the Chisholm and Slave lake fires. A person, either did something to cause, or didn’t do something to prevent, a fire that ultimately disrupted the single largest economic engine in the country, leaving thousands homeless, sending 10’s of thousands fleeing through extremely dangerous conditions. The losses are calculated to be in the billions.

Of course the game has to change.

In the aftermath we have experts creating narratives to fit their discipline and there really isn’t a simple way to provide the feedback required to correct our path. Example: Forest industry association – “The Horse River Fire is unprecedented in the size, at 589,552 hectares”. I would reply, hardly, the Richardson Fire of 2011 happened just north of the same location and was close to 150,000 hectares larger. The horse river fire is less than half the size of Alberta’s largest wildfire. The “unprecedented” aspect of this fire had little to do with the forest, other than it provided the ignition source.

Add Fort McMurray to the list of WUI incidents, in which, some people remained behind to successfully protect their interests – seemingly without incident.

- Did those people that remained behind (defying the evacuation order – and there were more than a few) really hamper the overall stabilization and recovery efforts? Or was this something the authorities’ chose to turn their attention to, when there was really nothing much else going on?

If you’ve made it this far in the post, a sincere thanks for following and I’ll leave you to contemplate this bottom line observation from the 2016 fire season.

If Plan A, following a WUI initial attack failure, is mass evacuation – What is plan B?







On topic, but unrelated to the content of this post.

I understand Rock Creek is now looking at forming a fire department. Nothing new, that seems to be the way it’s been happening for about 12, or 13 decades in this Province. Threatened by fire, ad hoc response, followed by an organizational effort and formalized response capacity. Is that really something we need to fix?

I understand the majority of UBCM respondents were not in favour of the proposed changes when it came to expanded evacuation powers, but UBCM intends to continue to pursue the changes - anyways.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 12th, 2017, 1:15 pm
by Drip_Torch
As I understand it, the Province is looking at updating the Fire Service Act, and the proposed changes to the Emergency Program Act, are still under review. In terms of the proposed expanded evacuation powers, I’m sure there will be many opinions to be contemplated going forward. This post will offer you mine, but first a quick look at 2017 – In case you’re new, or more likely, had your head buried in sandbags and didn’t catch all the nuances of the season.

To the casual observer this season started out innocent enough. Usually, NIFC’s Predictive Services offers a fairly accurate outlook that can be interpreted into our area for the broad strokes.
This spring it read:

“By mid-late July, the western fire season will begin to progress north into the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. While a normal transition into fire season is expected in the lower elevations, a delayed entrance is possible in the higher elevations as both regions enter their fire seasons having seen abundant winter and spring precipitation and snowpack accumulation.”


This year, however, our region, experienced some fairly significant departures from the forecast that I doubt escaped too many of the experienced eyes. Our snowpack was off, below normal, our spring was wet, in fact in our immediate area, the wettest. And, of course, no-one could have accurately predicted our drought. Still, while shoveling sandbags early this spring, many of the more seasoned Provincial firefighters were quick to agree that we were heading into something somewhat uncharted, and this was going to be a busy year.

It ended almost as abruptly as it started, and I believe the statistics are somewhere around; 1353 fires, 1,216,197 hectares burnt, and 428 structures lost. A record fire season in many ways, a significant fire season in many others. July 7th saw 218 fires start, significant, sure. Record? I doubt it’s even close. Kamloops… 387 hours recorded with less than 10 kms visibility and reported air quality index reading of 49? Record? For sure - and yuck, one I hope doesn’t get challenged again in my lifetime.

The lists go on, and on, but the two statistics that impress me the most:
2017 wildfire related civilian fatalities – 0.
2017 firefighter fatalities – 0.

This isn’t indicative of the statistical trend around the world, and unfortunately outside of BC, those statistics are trending the other way. 2017 was an exceptionally deadly fire season around the world and I would be remiss if I didn’t point that out, and add some context to it.

First, with a sigh, I’ll deal with the ambivalence I feel towards this topic. Some people, and the rationalizations they use to defy an evacuation order, make me cringe. There were more than a few of those situations in BC last year, and generally speaking I wish some people would, or could, think things through. There is only one valid reason, in my humble opinion, to ever defy an evacuation order around a wildfire. Simply, it’s being prepared to defy that order. The wherewithal, the plan, the equipment and the escape route to a safer place. Sometimes, some things, particularly “your things”, drive an emotional reaction that isn’t leading to rational conclusions. I wish I could impart what I’ve seen in my lifetime into those people’s heads, the moment I hear about them. Thankfully, those people and that situation is the exception – not the rule.

Still other situations, like Riske Creek, Hanceville ranchers, or the Tl'etinqox First Nation make me think “good on you” and carry on with this topic.

On balance, I stand opposed to changes to the Emergency Program Act that would criminalize the refusal to evacuate for the threat of wildfire. Zero fatalities is the number we're looking for and if it isn’t broken don’t be in a rush to fix it.

Experts say don’t be a garden hose hero in the face of an evacuation order”. Argh, this article almost set my keyboard on fire this summer, but a cooler head prevailed, and I withheld my comments – until now.

The article quotes three experts, Jim Lamorte, Bob Turner and Sandra Millers Younger.

Of the three, I’m familiar with Bob Turner and agree with his point, “…people who defy evacuation orders can hamper fire suppression work by forcing crews to work around them instead of treating the land as empty.”

I would add, moreover, they can create a distraction, in that crews have to be aware of them and account for them while undertaking their tasks. Perhaps, this comes into play most during aerial fire suppression operations.

Not to take away from that, I’ll tell you anecdotally, the running joke in my fire department; probationary and junior firefighters were often told they couldn’t be involved in front line fire suppression work until they had washed retardant off of an RCMP cruiser. Yes, there is the potential for injury and yes, the air crews by policy don’t drop on people. However, it does happen and the consequences are usually fairly laughable. People with the wherewithal, or experience will know the simple steps to take to minimize the potential for injury when caught in a drop zone.

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Others, well…

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Ms. Millers Younger, I’m aware of, she’s a writer, and I’ll put it to you like this. She knows, first hand something different than what she seems to be speaking to in this article. Her company Comeback Solutions transforms “Crisis into possibility” and her other company Strategic Story Solutions, helps entrepreneurs, “tell the right stories the right way to attract, engage and convert ideal audiences”. I don’t know that the CBC author managed to get her comments in context, but I do know that Ms. Millers Younger lost a number of her neighbours to the Cedar Fire of October 2003, in California.

Those losses were not a result of people choosing to stay behind to defend their homes. Rather, those lives were lost as a result of people evacuating, without any warning what-so-ever, into a flame front. It really is a very tragic story, one that I’ve looked at, although not through her book, a number of times in the last decade and a half.

This brings me to Mr. Lamorte, whom I don’t know of and can’t offer any background on, except to say I have my doubts that his emergency management expertise is in wildfire. While I have no doubt his comments were made with the best of intentions, still they sent a chill down my spine.

“Lamorte says this year's fast-moving, wind-driven infernos remind him of wildfires that turned deadly, such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia that killed 173 people, and the 2003 Cedar Fire near San Diego that killed 15.”


In my view, both the Cedar fire of 2003, and the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia, sit as the prime examples of why it will never be as easy as simply evacuate everyone out of the area, and why it should never be the standard operating procedure to simply rely on evacuation. It should also be said, they serve as an example as to why people given the opportunity to evacuate should do so without hesitation, especially, if they aren’t adequately prepared for the worst case scenario.

The Cedar fire killed a total of 15 people, 13 of which died in the first 24 hours. It was an example of the most dangerous type of wildfires we can be confronted with. A human caused fire, deliberately set in conditions that propel the flames faster than the residents of the immediate area can possibly flee. Most of the dead lived in the same neighbourhood, there was no time to receive an evacuation alert, or order. They died on the road while attempting to out-race the flames.

Australia is faced with far faster moving fires, has an official policy that encourages people to create a bush fire survival plan, and a long history of deadly wildfires. Nothing, speaks to this more than the Black Saturday Fires of 2009.

Typically, in modern times, Australian fatalities have been on the roads while trying to evacuate out of fire areas. The 2009 fires were numerous and occurred quickly. Most of the fatalities happened in homes that had been planned out to leave during an alert. What appears to have happened, based on survivor testimony and communications analysis is victims set out to evacuate, but had nowhere to go and had to turn around and go home, or to a neighbours because there was no other option available.

We measure spot fires in hundreds of meters, they measure spot fires in kilometers, sometimes, 10’s of kilometers and this was one of those days, in fact, it became the hottest day ever recorded and had fire weather conditions higher than those experienced on Black Friday, 1939 and Ash Wednesday of 1983.

Of the 173 people killed, 159, lost their lives in the Kinglake complex that took out over 1800 homes and burned 330,000 hectares of land. Kinglake-Maryville, was the area I reviewed the most in the Royal Commission report and the testimony from the survivors is chilling and revealing.

First, overall, the locations of the fatalities does begin to illuminate the desperate state of affairs people were faced with:
Inside houses 113
Outside houses 27
In Vehicles 11
In garages 6
Near Vehicles 5
On roadways 5
Attributed to, but not a direct result (car accidents) 4
On reserves 1
In Sheds 1
One firefighter was killed by burnt out tree that struck him while he was attaching a hose to his engine.

I guess, it would be easy to conclude that everyone should have just evacuated and outcomes would have been much better.

It isn’t until you start grinding into the investigation that another picture starts to unfold. The fire, became fires and things started to happen very quickly. There were a number of communications failures, both organizational and infrastructure related, that prevented alerts from going out, or being passed on. Most people, recognized that it was time to go, but couldn’t get out and much of the survivor testimony suggests those people turned around and sheltered with people that were more prepared to act. There is a lot of testimony from victims that never had any intention of trying to defend their homes through a fire event, but reluctantly had to join forces with neighbours to defend their lives. Sitting inside your home, during a wildfire is not something most Australians would choose to do, but the situation became so dire, with no other options available - that’s where the majority were found.

There simply was no evacuation route available to them and in the absence of a viable Plan B, they sheltered in place and hoped for the best. Most, I suspect, simply resigned themselves to the grim fact there was no escaping that fire.

In the aftermath, there is an effort to get alerts out much sooner and to encourage people to leave much faster, but there is also a greater push towards fire proofing their surroundings and creating a plan to be prepared to stay. I can only conclude this course of action arises from the realization that evacuation isn’t always going to be, and certainly wasn’t on that Saturday, a viable, or reliable option for everyone, all the time.

In view of the 2017 fire season here in British Columbia and other, recent and much more tragic WUI incidents around the world, I’ll leave this post with this observation. Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s fire experts told me BC’s fire WUI problems were lagging about 15 years behind California’s. Recently, biologists have told me species, both plant and animal, are moving north at a rate of about 15 kms per year. Things are changing and yes, this year was complicated by an anomalous weather pattern, but there is more going on here than just that.

I stand very much opposed to expanded evacuation powers. In my view, it’s becoming far more important that local communities prepare to survive future wildfires.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 12th, 2017, 1:31 pm
by maryjane48
We wouldnt even be having this discussion if the bclibs had put the filmon report in place . Now in regards to leaving in all for folks being able to try save their own property. This last fire season proved bcfore service has declined in last 16 years. Lots of bad choices were made.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 12th, 2017, 6:48 pm
by Drip_Torch
I’ll tell you a secret, my real life name is printed in the back of the Filmon report. My contribution felt validated and I believe you could find some of what I tried to speak to starting on page 8 and carried on through pages 55 and 56. As impressed as I am with the overall report, and as much as I agree that the report could have been better implemented, I completely disagree with your opinion regarding the 2017 fire season.

Earlier this year I spent about three and a half weeks assisting my neighbour to fortify his lakefront property against the rising waters. That involved many hours a day at my local fire-hall working shoulder to shoulder with both my local firefighters, and provincial resources from the BC Wildfire Service. I certainly didn’t see any decline. In fact, what I did see was better equipped, better trained and highly disciplined crews with a remarkable work ethic. I don’t believe we’ve ever enjoyed the benefit of such a professional organizational effort in our history.

In fairness, I’ll point out to you that the modern day WUI problems in BC, really started to manifest in 1994, and by 1998 the Auditor General for BC was trying to sound the alarm through a series of reports that went largely unnoticed.

You may have noticed, most years, I watch what goes on locally, capture it and try to share it through youtube so that you can see it too. I don’t offer any commentary, or opinion, and tend to publish just raw cuts – I’d like you to be able to see what works, what doesn’t, and what conditions our firefighters are faced with. I try to give you some perspective so that you can draw your own educated opinions. Apparently, I’m failing in that endeavour.

I don’t know what bad decisions you see, or think you see, but I saw a whole bunch of good decisions. Airtanker super groups, additional resources, interagency cooperation and initial attacks that obviously involved every piece of tin with wings this Province could muster. But really, that’s not the topic, the topic is expanded evacuation powers and I maintain that would be a step in the wrong direction. People need to be able to protect their own interests, because at the end of the day, people that give thought to protecting themselves, and their communities from wildfire, are far more likely to take the steps outside of fire season, (when the most effective fire suppression happens) in order to ensure their own success inside of fire season. When, as we just witnessed, conditions can deteriorate to the point that fire control is outside of the realm of possibilities.

Nothing that happened in the BC 2017 fire season is unique to BC, and the fact that we didn’t lose anyone, in such bad conditions, is no small victory.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 12th, 2017, 8:04 pm
by Catsumi
I didn't know this thread existed until an hour ago. What a wild ride reading through your posts, so thank you very much for all your effort in preparing and posting.

25 years ago I visited Gatlinburg and sorrow for that area as much as for our poor, beat up and burnt B.C.

You bring up so many salient points. One is that we have intruded so far into the wild areas and where we go, disaster surely follows. I question the "need" for ATV trails that tear up the land, inevitably harass wildlife and where users light fires or toss cigs. If I remember correctly, the horrific Ft. Mac fire started on an ATV trail.

An almost annual concern is that firebans are declared well after conflagrations are underway. Never could figure out why this is so. Perhaps you can give a definitive answer?

I agree with you that criminalizing those who stay behind to fight fires on their properties is pointless, but just how do you determine in advance and not in the final moments of an evac order, who can stay behind?

I've been fortunate enough to live in B.C. over the last forty years and luckily enjoyed beautiful summers; I cannot recall such ugly times as in the past couple of years and now we are being told to expect more of the same.

What to do? What will be left after the beetle, massive clearcut logging and now immense fires. Yes, our forests are slowly marching northwards towards melting permafrost (bogs) so will we see the extinction of pine forests?

I feel so sad for the loss of forests and wildlife habitat.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 13th, 2017, 7:10 pm
by Drip_Torch
Thank’s for the feedback Catsumi, and apologies for the wild ride. I struggle a bit to express myself on this topic because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that an evacuation order around a wildfire isn’t a serious situation. The vast majority of people should, and do, take the order to evacuate at face value.

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It really is a matter of perspective and balance. How you see the tool that Ed made is a matter of perspective, influenced by your culture, understanding of history, the angle you see it from, etc…

You might see an axe, for chopping wood, and that would dictate that the tool should be hardened to maintain a sharp edge. If you look at it the other way, you might see a pick, a hoe, or a grubbing tool and that would suggest the tool should be left a little malleable, so that it doesn’t break when it hits something hard.

Of course, the tool that Ed Pulaski made, “the Pulaski” is a common fire-line tool that serves both purposes; it chops, it grubs and thus we have to strive to find a balance in those utilities. How do you find that perfect balance in the contradistinction between hardened and malleable?

I’m willing to bet there’s probably a couple hundred thousand Pulaskis in circulation around North America and may-be there is one, somewhere, which has that perfect balance. It’ll keep an edge while chopping and yet, not send a shard into your arm, when you hit a rock while trying to chop out a root. One that, three days later puffs up bright red and starts oozing green stuff. Requiring you to catch a helicopter to some small medical clinic, where they perform a minor surgery that reveals the small shard is actually a big piece of metal and now you have to take a week off work and be pumped full of antibiotics…. But I digress.

If that perfectly balanced Pulaski is out there, I haven’t found it yet, but I’ll keep looking – for obvious reasons.

There’s an antithesis in everything about contemporary wildfire. Wildfire is destructive, necessary, devastating, rejuvenating, horrifying and for brief moments, solely and phenomenally beautiful. But, don’t worry about anyone getting too caught up in the latter, because the very moment Mother Nature comes out to reveal herself through fire, in her altogether beauty, she also sends a horsefly determined to dine on firefighter ears.

Its perspective and balance. I doubt there is a jurisdiction in the world that’ll ever find the perfect balance and if there ever is – it’ll last a nano-second and something will knock it back out of whack. That’s why no matter how adamantly I disagree with the higher level policy makers, I maintain a great deal of respect for them. They don’t deal with rocket science, at times, it’s much more complicated than that.

An almost annual concern is that firebans are declared well after conflagrations are underway. Never could figure out why this is so. Perhaps you can give a definitive answer?


I don’t know that I can give you a definitive answer, but it’s along the lines of perspective and balance.

Things, especially in the spring, can be quite different a few hundred meters up in the hills, than they are down here in the valley bottom. Most of the Okanagan valley bottom is organized and thus, the authority having jurisdiction is the municipal, or regional government. In my immediate area, you can’t have a campfire unless it’s in an approved location, subject to permit and inspection, any time of year. In the spring, it can be quite hot and dry down here, a little wetter and cooler a few hundred meters up and still buried in snow a few hundred meters above that.

I personally think the Province does a fairly good job when it comes to drawing that line and while there may be wildfire starts happening, I’m not aware of too many campfire escapes in the spring. Of course, we have regulations that outline how to have a safe campfire at any time of the year and while I’m not naïve enough to think every adult in BC is a responsible adult that will play by the rules, I do think there is appropriate corrective actions available to the authorities to encourage responsible campfire use. If anything, I’d like to see the RCMP, Fire Department, and Bylaw Departments given the same regulation schedules as the conservation service – so those fines go across the board.

I agree with you that criminalizing those who stay behind to fight fires on their properties is pointless, but just how do you determine in advance and not in the final moments of an evac order, who can stay behind?


I don’t think we could and if we did take that snap shot right now, it would be different 10 minutes from now. On balance, I believe our present system is working the majority of the time. I say this, knowing full well there are challenges that the authorities face and to some, expanded powers will look like the appropriate answer. I believe we need to treat adults as if they are responsible adults, until they prove us otherwise. We have the tools, in existing legislation, to deal with the exceptions to the rule as they arise.

Sometimes, if we support people a little they can really rise to the occasion and give us some very positive results.

For example, in the post above, I linked to a CBC article referencing the Tl'etinqox First Nation (Anaham Reserve). There were a number of other articles written and some of them were obviously penned by authors looking down their noses.

This was one situation that made me proud to be a British Columbian, and gave me hope for our adversarial system of governance. This all came to be while we had a Liberal Forest Minister, and an NDP Government about to be sworn in. Impressive is the way partisanship was set aside and everybody came together to get things done.

While the “tempers flare” and “refusing to evacuate” became major news items, the details of the how things resolved themselves never really made the news cycle.

Tl'etinqox First Nation was one of about 20 first nations that declined evacuation notices and alerts and in the end our authorities supported and worked with them. For Tl'etinqox the tension with the RCMP started on July 12. What didn’t hit the news cycle was the support the First Nation received from outsiders with a greater understanding of the cultural forces at play. Some good references on the role of First Nations firekeepers and how they influence the land: Keepers of the Flame (NFPA) could be available on youtube, if not I’ll give you a copy, or Awful Splendor: A Fire History of Canada – Stephen J. Pyne.

The City of New Westminster sent a decommissioned fire truck, City Coun. Chuck Puchmayr and a number of New West firefighters to deliver the fire truck, and get the band firekeepers up to speed on how to operate the truck. Within a day, the situation with the RCMP had been defused and within a couple of days the First Nation had received enough donations of food, equipment and firefighting equipment that it was in pretty good shape to meet the challenges they would face.

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And, they did face challenges. The fire started taking good hard runs at them through the week, jumped the Chilcotin River and they finally stopped the fast moving inferno at their doorsteps around July 16th.

Through Facebook, New West City Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said:

"After four intense days of running food, medicine, and fire fighting equipment between Williams lake and Tl'etinqox (Anaham) plus Red Stone reserves,… I have developed a great respect for forest firefighters and have witnessed such a high skill level of response by First Nations crews."


Again, through Facebook, Tl'etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse said:

"We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from outside of our community. We received a fire truck from New Wesminister, donations of food from various group and organisations, donations of fire fighting equipment, generators.
"I can say we are very appreciative of all the help we have received and finally can't say enough of all the fire fighters and heavy equipment operators who continue to protect our community."


Sometimes, you've just got to get'er done and that's why I'm not in favour of hardening the system. In closing this post, I'll borrow the words of the former director of the Protection Branch, Jim Dunlop, as expressed in the forward of "Coming Through Fire" by David Greer.

In some cases a pump and hose would be dropped off at a fire, where supervisors would simply say, "start it up and put the fire out" It is probably the best training there is - with flames licking your butt. I say it wasn't Nike that came up with the phrase "Just Do It," it was the Forest Service in 1958.


As we know, 1958 is now the second worst fire season on record.

Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 13th, 2017, 8:56 pm
by Catsumi
Sadly, regardless of rules, regulations, oversight and layers of authority to "prevent" careless folk from playing with fire during this very hot and dry summer, it did very little good. Unlike you, I do not trust people to act in a grownup responsible manner. There is just no help for our idiot population. It is too much trouble for them to use the new campfire rings and just too hard to stay off ATV's in the bush and, I am pretty sure, these are the same ones who take their garbage, old vehicles and renovation trash for dropoff into the forests.

In a perfect world we could take those folk who believe it is their right to start fires in extremely hot conditions, to deal with flight through flames as the driver in the Gatlinburg clip did. Then, maybe they could begin to imagine the horror of being an animal, running for its life, tiring, exhausted and then being burnt to death. Those are the ones that could run.

If you haven't already, perhaps you could review the fire thread of this summer. There was a very good post from an Australian who described how his country is handling fire season. He was shouted down, naturally, by our very own Castanut finest. Australia has suffered mightily from fire. Perhaps we could learn something from them?

You are the expert DripTorch. Hope to hear more from you.

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Re: Changes to B.C.’s Emergency Program Act

PostPosted: Nov 14th, 2017, 11:28 am
by Drip_Torch
If you get a moment Catsumi I’d appreciate it if you could DM me a link to the post, I’d like to give it a read.

I started in emergency services young and it really tempered the way I look at things. For a very brief period of time I walked a lot and carried intervention tools on my belt. Trust me, I know the full potential of mankind’s stupidity. Me, I’ve always confidently planned for the very best, while quietly being prepared for the very worst. It’s just how I roll. Often times, I’ve been pleasantly surprised when things do work out and I have to put on my game face, and pretend I never had any doubts.

Expert? No, not me, but thanks. I’m a student of Wildland Urban Interface fires. To be an Expert, I’d need to take up forestry as a study, pay far more attention to where I place commas, find the breaks on my run-on sentences, and conclude everything I write with a vague statement about my inconclusive findings and how my topic requires more study.

Who’s got time for that, less than a month after 8400 structures were destroyed in Napa, and the slightly negative cycle to the ENSO sets up an interesting interplay with the PDO, suggest there is still the very real potential for another late season blocking high pressure system in the Sierra Nevada’s?

I read a lot of experts, I’ve met a few. They’ve all been very encouraging. “Get a job”. “Take up a hobby”. “Find yourself a younger mistress”. Mrs. Torch put the kibosh on that last suggestion, with a laugh stating, “You know you’d have to give up reading those fire reports, if you wanted to hook-up with a woman – right?”

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