Monday, September 19, 2011

Boots on the Ground: WCC provides critical support for Olympic Peninsula wildfire fighting efforts

By Bridget Mason, WCC Coordinator, Washington Conservation Corps

Adaptability is not just a slogan for our Washington Conservation Corps members. It’s a fact. We must continuously stay flexible to meet community needs whenever help is required.

Washington Department of Natural Resources asks for firefighting help

On September 6, 2011, our WCC members were working hard on their typical projects – building trails, removing invasive weeds, installing irrigation – when the WA State Department of Natural Resources asked us to help with firefighting efforts to contain a 1,300-acre wildfire in the Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula near Mount Jupiter.

Mobilizing in just a few hours

Although the initial details were vague when we got the call at 1 p.m. Tuesday, our members were told that they would likely work as a camp crew – but should come prepared to join the fire line, just in case. The WCC sent five members and a crew supervisor to work as a camp crew. They arrived at the Brinnon Fire Station at 8 p.m. later that same day.

Long, hot days

Our camp crew worked 15-hour days, managing the intake and distribution of supplies necessary to support those responding to the fire. They managed incoming shipments and provided support to the Incident Management team as well as the helicopter, medical and 20-person fire line crew.

The WCC members operated out of a truck trailer behind the Brinnon fire station from September 6 through September 13 – including operating in unusually hot, dry September temperatures.

Rewarding work

The opportunity to gain experience on a wildfire response is just one of the many reasons people join the WCC. Phil Siefker, one of the WCC Members on this response, calls it an “excellent opportunity to see the inner workings of a wild land fire incident response, and to learn from staff that has been doing this work for decades.”

Click here for more about the Washington Conservation Corps.

See more Big Hump fire information.

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