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Wildland fire mitigation provides peace of mind and training

 

The Kansas Forest Service will conduct prescribed burns and fuel mitigation under the direction of a Type 3 Incident Management Team at the Quivira Council Boy Scouts of America Camp.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Forest Service Incident Management Team will lead efforts to reduce the risk of wildland fire on the Quivira Scout Ranch at the 15th Annual Hazardous Fuels Mitigation Project scheduled for March 24-30, 2019.

“The Hazardous Fuels Mitigation Project exemplifies the overall goals of the wildland fire program for the Kansas Forest Service: collaborating with agencies throughout Kansas and the region; providing training for future and current firefighters; conducting on-the-ground fuels reduction through physical removal; and using prescribed burning to conserve and promote the native ecosystems of Kansas,” said Rodney Redinger, incident commander for the project and assistant fire management officer focusing in training and operations for the Kansas Forest Service.

Located about 12 miles north of Sedan, Kansas, Quivira Scout Ranch experienced a wildfire in 2016 that damaged approximately 1,700 acres and another smaller fire in 2018 that burnt 800 acres.

 “The council wants to protect our property for its intended use,” said Warren McCoskey, vice president of properties for the Quivira Council.

 During the mitigation project, firefighters will thin woodlands, build fire breaks, remove snags, conduct prescribed burning, and more to meet the conservation and fire-adapted landscape goals of the Quivira Scout Ranch.

 As part of a partnership between KFS and Hutchinson Community College, the annual project offers HCC students in the Fire Science Program an opportunity for one-of-kind hands-on training.

“The mitigation project gives them the experience of an incident command structure and the demands of the career field,” said Bobby White, HCC department chair and fire science coordinator.

Many of the students will go on to careers in city fire departments. As urban boundaries continue to blend with rural landscapes and the risk of wildland fire increases across the state, those future firefighters will need the wildfire-fighting skills they practice as part of the mitigation activities.

The mitigation project is managed by KFS staff members who are nationally-certified wildland firefighters and incident managers. Wildland firefighters are highly trained in fire behavior, suppression methods and wildland fire mitigation. Throughout the week of mitigation activities, they will use the National Incident Management System to manage the event.

Other wildland firefighters will join KFS staff from Kansas and surrounding states, representing 20 local, state and federal agencies that house wildland firefighters.

“Bringing together agencies from across our region for a planned mitigation project helps us build working relationships for emergency responses to wildland fire incidents,” Redinger said.

Follow along with the work of the firefighters during the mitigation project on Facebook @kansasforestservice, Twitter @KSForestService and the KFS website, KansasForests.org.