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Wildland Urban Interface Training Exercise Set

By Bruce Pophal

With wildfire season right around the corner, now is the time for training and preparation. CAL FIRE, in cooperation with the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, and Lake Wildwood Association are taking seasonal training to a whole new level.
Typically, training exercises do not involve the public, but an opportunity is missed to educate them about what firefighters need to safely do their work when wildfires threaten homes.
The concept began in 2017, when Matt Wallen, battalion chief with CAL FIRE in Nevada City, engaged the Cascade Shores Firewise Community to participate. The interaction between the residents and firefighters resulted in a better understanding of defensible space, firefighting tactics and how these two elements align in order to enable effective structure defense.
Residents will receive a CodeRED notification during the exercise and ask them to voluntarily participate in a mock evacuation drill. Educational displays and presentations will be conducted for residents while the firefighters are training. Afterwards, lunch will provide an opportunity for lessons learned between firefighters and the community. The ultimate goal: Be better prepared for emergency evacuation and the next wildfire in Nevada County.
The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Structure Defense Drills include Engine Company “Bump and Run,” structure defense with home prep, hose deployment as well as a progressive hose lay and hand line construction. The training drill will be conducted in Lake Wildwood on Sunday, May 27. The drill is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
For these drills, there will be 17 homes, spaced out within the community, to utilize as a training environment for multiple fire engine crews to access driveways and yards around the perimeter of the home for structure defense with fire hoses on the ground, spraying water and using hand tools as needed to simulate extinguishing a wildfire threatening the home.
Fire crews would simulate preparing the home for the best chances of surviving the flame front burning through the community and move onto the next home for defense preparation and extinguishment.
It is anticipated about 10–14 engines and 40–50 fire personnel will be participating the drill.
Firefighters must continually hone their skills when it comes to fighting fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface, to be better prepared in saving lives and property when faced with fires such as the Wind Complex Fire that our area endured last October.
Lake Wildwood community consists of many houses with very heavy vegetation around them. The risk of wildland fire in our area is greater than in an area such as Santa Rosa. Both communities have an established Firewise Committee, whose task is to advise the homeowners in how to better prepare for emergencies and implement and maintain effective defensible space around their homes. Homeowners receive this help by requesting a Defensible Space Advisory visit from the Firewise Committee in their area or through the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.
To learn more about how to make your own home more fire safe, visit CAL FIRE’s website at http://readyforwildfire.org, or contact the local Fire Safe Council of Nevada County online at http://www.areyoufiresafe.com or by phoning (530) 272-1122.


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