AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: NWCG Seeks to Improve Wildfire Flying Safety

Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 8, 2021: The Line 5 pipeline is being considered for a permanent shutdown; ash emissions spew several miles into the sky from a volcano in Colombia; several Ivy League schools were evacuated over the weekend after receiving bomb threats; a crowd surge at an Astroworld music festival killed eight people and injured hundreds; a firefighter suffered extensive burns while rescuing residents from a fire in New Hampshire; a nor’easter causes flooding, halts ferry service, and closes roads on Hatteras Island; FEMA has launched a new IS course to help tribal communities with hazard mitigation planning; and the NWCG calls attention to dangerous weather conditions and improve wildfire flying safety in its “6 Minutes for Safety” publication.

1. Winter weather is quickly moving into the Midwest. Another pipeline shutdown may be looming, which could further increase heating costs for consumers. As part of a network that moves crude oil and other products from western Canada, Line 5 is crucial to petroleum supplies in Michigan. According to reports, clean energy such as solar panels and wind turbines still requires the use of oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and coal in its production. This type of energy is not a viable solution to the energy needs for winter heating.

2. Ash emissions continue at the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia. The current advisory level remains at Yellow despite the ongoing ash emissions, the latest of which have reached 19,000 to 21,000 feet and have drifted to the west-northwest. Ashfall has impacted nearby towns such as Manizales and Villamaría and has also affected La Nubia Airport, which experienced ash on its runway.

3. Bomb threats were received by several Ivy League Schools on Sunday, prompting campus evacuations. Brown, Cornell and Columbia all received bomb threats on Sunday, while Yale was evacuated last Friday due to a bomb threat. According to reports, the threats were phoned in, including the one against Yale. The caller notified the New Haven police department that there were 40 bombs placed around the campus.

4. A crowd surge at a music festival in Houston on Friday led to the deaths of at least eight people. Reports indicate that the mass casualty incident resulted in at least 17 people being taken to nearby hospitals, including 11 people who suffered cardiac arrest. Officials said that the crowd surge may have occurred due to a drug spiking incident – or a targeted attack – in a specific location of the festival.

5. A firefighter in Manchester, New Hampshire, suffered burns across 40% of his body while fighting an apartment complex fire on Saturday. Fire Captain Steve DeRuisseaux was engulfed in flames in a flashover that occurred while DeRuisseaux was on a ladder. Although DeRuisseaux did a ladder bail, one of his straps got caught, trapping him at the top of the ladder. The captain suffered second- and third-degree burns. While six people were rescued, the fire also claimed the life of one person and injured two others.

6. A nor’easter wreaked havoc on Hatteras Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks this past weekend. High winds and strong gusts led to rough surf that pounded the pier in Rodanthe, caused soundside flooding, and halted all ferry traffic to Ocracoke Island. Ocean overwash impacted parts of the island, closing some roads. One dune breach on Pea Island exacerbated the flooding.

7. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched a new independent study course targeting tribal mitigation. The new “IS-350 Mitigation Planning for Tribal Communities,” is now available for free through the Independent Study Program via the Emergency Management Institute’s (EMI’s) website. The course is designed to assist tribal emergency managers and other EM partners in the preparation and implementation of a tribal hazard mitigation plan.

8. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) seeks to draw attention to ensuring safe flying during wildfires through its recent “6 Minutes for Safety” publication. The NWCG notes that mountain flying poses unique and dangerous conditions, which can be exacerbated during wildfires, and also includes the potential for mountain wave or mechanical turbulence that is moderate to severe. Other conditions that make flying in and around wildfires dangerous includes the ability of wildfires to create their own weather. Weather in and around wildfires often involves strong updrafts and downdrafts; it also requires pilots to maintain sufficient airspeed to avoid a stall, among other skilled maneuvers.

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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