AMU Emergency Management Fire & EMS Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Bridger Foothills Fire Shelter Deployment Report Released

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 11, 2020: The FLA report has been released regarding three firefighters who survived shelter deployment during the Bridger Foothills Fire; household hazardous waste cleanup from wildfires is complete in eight counties in Oregon; Lithuania is calling on the EU to ban power importation from unsafe nuclear facilities; Utah state emergency managers say 78% of wildfires during the 2020 season were human-caused; a 6.1 earthquake caused buildings to shake in Taipei; FEMA is requesting feedback from Whole Community partners on its newly updated CPG 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans; video modeling of the Beirut warehouse explosion highlights issues for local communities regarding warehouse storage facilities; and FEMA announced that Phase 1 of its new online National Risk Index is now available.

1) The Facilitated Learning Analysis Report (FLA) was released regarding three firefighters who survived the deployment of their fire shelters during a burnover while fighting the  Bridger Foothills Fire northeast of Bozeman, Montana. Key points included the lack of a fire shelter for one firefighter, communication issues with equipment and between personnel, and ensuring proper and repeated training regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including the efficient and rapid deployment of fire shelters. The report also detailed extreme and severe fire weather and the lack of retardant drops on the area near the handline that the firefighters, who were caught in the fire, had completed the prior night.  

2) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that it has completed its household hazardous waste cleanup in eight counties in Oregon that were impacted by wildfires in September. According to the EPA, 300,000 pounds of hazmat were removed or rendered safe from 2,285 properties, including propane tanks, oil, solvents, pesticides, and bulk asbestos. Removing hazardous materials is a critical step that ensures the safety of workers prior to them beginning removal of ash and debris.  

3) Leaders in the European Union may be calling for a ban on the importation of power from Belarus. The new Russian-built nuclear power plant, Ostravets, was fraught with construction accidents of which attempts were made to conceal them, while more recently, cooling system and steam absorber malfunctions led to unplanned shutdowns. Citing “poor quality assurance and control in the earlier design, manufacturing, and assembling stages, as well as low operational safety…absent competence and personnel shortages,” Lithuania already banned importation of Belarussian power and is calling for a European Union-wide ban of nuclear facilities that do not fulfill safety standards recognized by the EU.  

4) Utah State emergency managers noted that nearly 4 out of 5 wildfires was human-caused during the 2020 wildfire season. A surge in outdoor recreation is being blamed for the uptick in wildfires caused by humans, including those caused by campfires, burning debris and dragging chains. Emergency managers noted a total of 1,202 human-caused fires occurred, which surpassed the record of 937 fires five years ago and accounted for 78% of all fires in the state in 2020.  

5) Buildings shook in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, on Thursday evening, when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck off the island’s northeastern coast. The earthquake struck very deep at about 45.5 miles below the surface, and although buildings shook, there were no reports of injuries. The quake did briefly halt railway service, and minor damage was observed in some buildings.

6) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is requesting feedback on its recently updated Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans. The National Integration Center (NIC) is seeking input from Whole Community partners in an effort to identify confusing areas, provide best practices or success stories, and further identify training opportunities, additional job aids, or resources for inclusion. The deadline for submitting feedback is Monday, January 25, 2021. Information regarding webinars that include facilitated discussions with stakeholders regarding draft improvements, are available on the FEMA website.  

7) A newly released video modeling of the explosion of the waterfront warehouse in Beirut in August of 2020,  is now available. The video prompted fire officials to ask local jurisdictions to focus on issues surrounding the explosion, including the improper storage of hazardous materials, the storing of multiple explosive products in the same location and emergency plans in local communities that have warehouse storage facilities. Fire officials are also asking local communities to evaluate their working relationships with Whole Community partners involved in port security and oversight and to ensure effective communication plans are in place should an incident occur.

8) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that Phase 1 of the new online National Risk Index is now available. The mapping tool application analyzes risk factors from 18 natural hazards and offers a holistic view of community risk, including expected annual losses, social vulnerability, and community resilience. The application will also help emergency managers and planners to update hazard mitigation and emergency operation plans, prioritize and allocate resources, and support adoption of enhanced codes and standards, along with other applications, thereby helping communities better prepare for natural hazards through the use of standardized risk data.   

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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