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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vegetation Response? In My District?

At 11:30 some unfamiliar tones went off at my station. They were the tones for a vegetation fire. We have almost no "wildland" in my district to burn so we were a bit confused. Really the only places that would fall into that category are the areas right along the freeway and along side the railroad tracks. Armed with this knowledge I decided to just don my structural firefighting pants and boots and to throw on my wildland jacket.

Once in the truck dispatch informed us that we were responding for a small vegetation fire on the side of the freeway. No big deal. The biggest danger there is working along side rubberneckers driving and texting while doing 75mph. Then dispatch gave us another update. There were reports of a vehicle on fire as well.

Now I was really happy that I had chosen to use my turnout pants. In the back of the rig I swapped my wildland jacket for my turnout jacket and slipped into my BA. I was now ready for the car fire.

While getting on the freeway we could see smoke showing about a mile down the road. But the smoke was all wrong. Instead of the thick black smoke of a car fire it was the much lighter colored smoke of a grass fire. As we pulled up I realized I was way over dressed for this call.

There was a small fire about 100' across. I dropped my SCBA and stretched out the hose line on the bumper. I started at the edge of the roadway and quickly worked my away around the head of the fire. While I was knocking it down there another crew (from Engine 110) started fighting the fire from the other side. Within a couple of minutes the fire was out and we started hunting down and cooling off hot spots.

We found out afterward that CalTrans had put down some road flares to warn people of the sweeper train ahead of them. A car ran over a flare and kicked it out into the brush causing the fire. That's how the vehicle was involved in the fire.

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