Intterra Blog

Q & A from the Intterra & WFCA Webinar Series - Episode 1

Jun 18, 2020 6:22:42 PM / by Intterra Team

Intterra and Western Fire Chiefs Association have partnered in a webinar series focusing on COVID-19 and wildfire. 

Episode 1 from the series highlights areas of concern unique to running wildfire in the face of a pandemic. There were open discussions about the recent guidance provided to different levels of responders, the challenges of implementing these guidelines, and how each level of response is planning on managing wildfire season. 

Episode 1 from the series highlights areas of concern unique to running wildfire in the face of a pandemic. There were open discussions about the recent guidance provided to different levels of responders, the challenges of implementing these guidelines, and how each level of response is planning on managing wildfire season. 

During Episode 1, a few questions about wildfire during a pandemic were raised by attendees that we didn’t have time to answer live. As additional information for your agency, we thought it would be useful to share the answers to these questions as provided by our panelists. 

 

Question 1: Is there a plan to increase facilities and medical units? 

We would expect this to be dependent on each incident and jurisdiction. 

 

Question 2: Has there been any discussion about assigning an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist to incidents with Type 1 and Type 2 teams that coordinate with local, state, and federal AHJ’s?

Yes, but this will also likely be dependent on each incident and jurisdiction. 

 

Question 3: During the webinar, there was mention of the importance of validating responders from organizations that follow best practices. How do you appropriately approach a traditional partner that does not follow best practices and/or has a less aggressive approach to reducing COVID-19 spread?

Ultimately, we have no control regarding best practices implementation. This webinar series is designed to create best practices and we encourage each agency to adopt & implement them, similarly to NWCG criteria. 

 

Question 4: Deployables for communications are now critical to support the spreading of resources away from the established LTW communications. We will need cell and broadband reception on the fireline, drop zones, remote ICP’s, and spike camps. Agree?

Agreed. Communications and IT networks can be enhanced by working with First-Net for incident support management. 

 

Question 5: Do you see the role for mesh networks increasing for information dispersal, situational awareness, and accountability?

Yes, networks will become increasingly important as incident management becomes more reliant on technology tools. 

 

Question 6: Are there preventative measures and/or conversations about work/rest ratios being altered? Do long assignments and shifts have a draining effect on firefighters immune systems? 

Work/rest cycles will remain an incident decision based upon incident dynamics and current health directives. 

 

Question 7: Is there research that wildland smoke can enhance or cause COVID-19 respiratory ailments to surface? In particular to long durations of smoke-filled environments that affect communities and firefighters?

There are several recent media stories that discuss the effects of long-term smoke exposure on firefighters and civilians with pre-existing health conditions. These are forecasts and not specific enough to create direction at this time. 

 

Question 8: Do we foresee some of the changes discussed to be permanent? 

Yes, because some of these changes can be modified for other challenges. 

 

For more information about how this coronavirus is affecting the fire service, you can watch the webinar recording of Episode 1 here.

 

Intterra Team

Written by Intterra Team