Wildland Urban Interface
r F inding the balance in your career seems to always come down to the issue of time. Time seems to play a part in everything we do.
How much time is it going to take to prepare for
an interview? How much time is it going to take
to train? How much time is it going to take to get
the next certification? How much time is it going
to take to become eligible for a promotion? How
much time am I going to need to feel prepared?
How much time are we going to have to gauge an
offensive attack? How much time is it going to take
to respond? How much time have I been on scene?
How much time do I have to search? How much
time do I have on the job? How much time do I
have until retirement?
Balancing time also plays a huge role in your personal life—making sure you are spending enough
time with your family, loved ones, and friends.
Personal and professional relationships all have a
huge influence in our lives. When you really look at
it, time seems to be the most valuable asset in our
lives. We can never get it back or have enough of it.
This past wildfire season, this country saw its
share of catastrophic events. We witnessed devasta-
tion across communities that left our customers
without homes or the means to carry through.
Time after time, we saw our brothers and sisters
putting themselves on the front lines to help our
stakeholders in their time of desperate need.
This commitment took time. It took training;
tactics; resources; certifications; schooling; knowledge; and, most importantly, planning. It is fair to
say that not one of our fellow firefighters jumped
into the wildland-urban interface (WUI) without
demonstrating a commitment to a good percentage of these time-consuming endeavors. Our team
would not blindly commit to a set of structures
without the time spent on the drill ground or in the
classroom. This is a well thought out, drilled set of
strategies and tactics to ensure everyone goes home.
It is a preplanned event. There was time spent
evaluating hazard, risk, tactical proficiency, and
crew performance. We understand the capabilities
and form expectations of our crews.
The Roaring Lion Fire in southwest Montana
was an event that nobody expected. It was an
event where there was no time. The fire completely
engulfed a populated canyon in under 50 minutes.
The residents had zero discretionary time. They
had to decide to leave immediately—with little to
no warning. There was no plan, no discussion, no
strategy, and no training involved. Each resident
understood the risk of residing in the canyon and
took some action to make the neighborhood safer.
The Roaring Lion
Strategies for community
preplanning for WUI incidents
A fire department needs to have
a plan. The community needs
to have a plan to support or be
supported by the fire department. (Photos by author.)