BOISE - As shown by the amount of smoke in the air, the wildfires burning in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are contributing to an unprecedented wildfire season across the west.
“During times like this, it takes all of us working together to appropriately respond,” said Tony Piscopo, Wildfire Division Chief, Boise Fire Department. “The City of Boise has taken this philosophy to heart and is committed to serving our community as well as to offering our assistance to all those in need.”
Eleven members of the Boise Fire Department are currently assigned to wildfires in Idaho, Nevada, and California. Five members are on the Woodhead Fire in Idaho, four are assigned to Brush 15 on the Slink Fire in California, and two are assigned to other large fires in California. Boise Fire Department members have not yet been called to Oregon but we are part of the overall effort to support the wildfire response in our region. In addition, fire camps across the west are adhering to full COVID-19 protocols. Everyone at camp must follow strict guidance to ensure all personnel remain safe during this pandemic.
The Boise Fire Department Command Staff meets on a regular basis to evaluate and discuss our capacity to meet the needs in Boise while also deploying personnel and resources to assist other jurisdictions across the nation. Numerous members of the Boise Fire Department have been deployed for 14-day assignments since July 4th, working on engines, as EMTs and paramedics, in communications units, and on Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams. While the personnel rotate, Boise Fire’s Type 4 engine has been out for over 30 days straight. Overall, Boise Fire Department members have been deployed to five states: Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, and Idaho, in the last three months.
“While the members of Boise Fire may not always work on the largest fires or those mentioned in the news, their efforts are seen by those whose homes and lives they save. Wherever we are assigned, we are all working together as the wildfire community to support one another locally, regionally, and nationally,” said Tony Piscopo, Wildfire Division Chief, Boise Fire Department.
As a testament to our commitment, the Boise Fire Department previously invested in the development of an integrated Wildfire Division to help manage all aspects of incident support and management both locally and nationally. In June 2018, a Chief Officer was hired to manage the program, including the training, credentials, and deployment of wildfire and all-hazard personnel to assist on a national scale. Since then, the Boise Fire Department has sent resources to hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas and to wildfires across the western states. This effort contributes to the National Response Framework, developed by FEMA to coordinate large scale disasters from the local to national level. As in other deployments, all costs for personnel and equipment will be reimbursed to the City of Boise for this summer’s work outside the city.
In the coming days, critical fire weather is predicted for the Great Basin and western Rocky Mountains. The majority of large wildland fire activity is happening in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. A total of 79 large fires have burned over 3.8 million acres so far this year. Right now in Idaho, there are 14 large fires burning for a combined total of over 185,000 acres. Additional information about wildfire burning across the country can be found on InciWeb, https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/, and additional information about the Woodhead Fire in Idaho can be found at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7163/.