Sunday, August 16, 2009


This is coolbert:

Once again, the state of California is at war! With the enemy of fire! Timber and brush fires, multiple in number, striking all at once, the "aggressor" having an uncanny ability to attack where least expected, creating a very difficult and chaotic situation.

And once again, the analogy to war, armed combat between groups of humans can be made? Fighting these fires is as close to war as can be gotten without having an enemy shooting at you?

"Schwarzenegger urges Californians to heed evacuation orders"

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged residents to heed mandatory evacuation orders Saturday as 6,800 firefighters battled to control nearly a dozen blazes across the parched state."

Further from the Globe & Mail article, these extracts and my comments:

* "6,800 firefighters battled to control nearly a dozen blazes"

A brigade-size PLUS unit of "troops" [firefighters] with all their impedimenta, having to fight brush and timber fires over an extended area, almost a dozen "enemy attacks" having to be countered simultaneously! "Troops" equipped with a standard battle kit, organized into units, commanded from a distance by a headquarters, HAVING TO BE SUSTAINED FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD IN THE FIELD!!

* "These fires will be different than most of the fires because of the terrain,' . . . 'That's why you see a lot of helicopters and fixed winged aircraft being used.'”

Impedimenta to include an "air force". Aircraft consisting of fixed and rotary wing aircraft dropping a slurry fire retardant mix on the fires. The terrain being hilly to mountainous, inaccessible to vehicles and difficult for men-a-foot to operate in. "Mountain troops" [firefighters] are required here. Persons with special gear and trained to operate in rugged mountainous conditions.

* "But an offshore wind was expected to blow into the area later Saturday, bringing hotter temperatures, dropping the humidity and drying out the trees and brush."

Changing conditions that a commander must constantly be cognizant of and take into consideration at all times when making fire-fighting decisions! A commander not only aware of what is occurring NOW, but attempting to anticipate what "things" will be like in 24, 48, 72, 96 hours into the future. And using an "intelligence preparation of the battlefield" to do so. Overlays showing the terrain, the vegetation, populated areas, road network, etc. DATA FROM A WEATHER FORECAST BUREAU BEING AN ESSENTIAL AND INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS!! Where aircraft can fly and when being to a large degree dependent on the weather.

* "11 [fires] burning in the state."

* "threatening more than 1,000 homes and buildings"

Eleven fires burning simultaneously. Assets ARE NOT UNLIMITED! Political authority [Arnold], at the highest level, must consult with the commander on the ground and make decisions as to where assets are to be allocated with the idea to "get the biggest bang from the buck!" Where the firefighters can do the most good and how quickly!

* "blazes have forced evacuations and knocked out power"

An untenable condition has arisen that necessitates the evacuation of civilians from endangered areas. REFUGEES THAT MUST NOW BE CARED FOR AND GOTTEN SAFELY OUT OF THE FIRE AREA!! Even more assets, analogous to the military "civil affairs" units must be brought to readiness and into operational mode.

* "smoke and ash from the growing wildfire in Santa Barbara County whirled into the Los Angeles area, prompting an unusual weather forecast of 'scattered smoke.'”

Smoke is a weapon of war! Creates a "fog" that makes it difficult for those on the ground and IN THE AIR to make sound decisions, the process being complicated by incomplete data and intelligence!! Poor visibility makes air operations - - the dropping of the slurry mixture very difficult AND DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS!!

* "25 firefighters had been injured in various blazes"

Danger! Firefighting is like armed combat in that real danger exists. Injuries from operations in rugged terrain [a person tripping and breaking bones] is a possibility, the fire itself can turn in a heartbeat on the firefighter, burnt trees falling on unsuspecting and unwary "troops" too, etc.

* "A change in winds shifted the fire away from Bonny Doon but closer to Swanton"

Fire is a CHAOTIC ENEMY. "Fights" by rules that are not your rules, changing direction and behaving in an unanticipated way. Of the generally agreed upon criteria as to what constitutes LIFE, FIRE MEETS A GOODLY NUMBER OF THE CRITERIA! Fire can almost be seen as a living thing??!!

"Hey, no one ever said this was going to be easy"


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